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  2. Professor Fiona Patterson

Professor Fiona Patterson (BSc, MSc, PhD, CPsychol, AcSS, FRSA, FCMI, FRCGP (Hon))

Visiting Professor and Social Sciences Lead for the Interdisciplinary Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice (The Psychology of Creativity and Innovation)

Department of Psychology

Email: or
Telephone: +44 1332 295687


Professor Fiona Patterson is a leading expert in the field of assessment, high stakes selection, innovation and change in organisations. She has over 20 years experience of working at a strategic level with a variety of FTSE 100 companies and public sector organisations.

Prior to her posts in academe, she was Head of Organisational Psychology at The Boots Corporation Plc and internal consultant psychologist at Ford Motor Company Limited (Global). These posts led to an interest in research in assessment and she was sponsored by Ford to conduct a PhD in this area at the University of Nottingham. In 1998, Fiona took a lectureship at the University of Nottingham to pursue her research interests. Following this she was promoted to a post at the Institute of Work Psychology, University of Sheffield where she led a research team and was Director for post-graduate programmes.

She was appointed Professor of Organisational Psychology at City University London in 2003 where she established the Organisational Psychology Group, a teaching and research unit, and became Director of Research for the School of Social Sciences. In 2010, she was appointed Principal Researcher in the Psychology Department at the University of Cambridge. She was invited to remain a Visiting Professor at City, acting as the Social Sciences lead for the Interdisciplinary Centre for Creativity in Professional Practice, comprising 7 Schools across the University.

Professor Patterson is Director and founder for the Work Psychology Group Ltd consulting practice, providing research-led advice to public, private and voluntary sector organisations internationally. Fiona publishes widely in assessment, especially in relation to selection, innovation and change in organisations. Over the past 15 years, her research has had a major impact upon governmental and corporate policy in the UK and abroad. In May 2012 Fiona was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Royal College of General Practitioners in recognition of her ongoing contribution to the selection process for GP specialty training. In 2013, she won the ASME Silver Quill Award for the highest impact publication in Medical Education, the leading international journal in this field. Also in 2013, she won the annual British Psychological Society's Occupational Psychology Academic Contribution to Practice award.

Selected esteem markers

Advisory roles

  • Adviser to the UK Department of Health and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges on assessment and selection methodology
  • Psychometric Adviser, Royal College of Surgeons, England.
  • Assessment and Psychometric Adviser, Royal College of General Practice, UK
  • Invited by Professor Sir John Tooke and the Medical Schools Council to Chair an International Expert Panel to review selection mechanisms for entry into Foundation training in the UK.
  • Selection and Assessment Advisor to the General Practice Education Training (GPET), Canberra, Australia
  • Invited Faculty member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development, Psychology of Management


  • Appointed Special Professor in Medical Education & Assessment, University of Nottingham (2010-2013).
  • Invited by the Royal College of General Practice and COGPED to direct a research and evaluation project to define the knowledge, skills, abilities and other attributes required for UK GPs in future (following the government White Paper, Liberating the NHS, 2010).
  • Invited expert to develop an international policy statement on Assessment for Selection for the Healthcare Professions; Ottawa Conference on the Assessment of Competence in Medicine and the Healthcare Professions, Miami, USA, 2010.  
  • Invited Academic Convenor, BPS Science & Practice Strategy Group, 2009; Division of Occupational Psychology.
  • British Psychological Society nomination for Academician of Social Sciences for outstanding contribution. Awarded 2006.
  • Author of Work Psychology; the main academic textbook selling over 12,000 copies worldwide; translated into 4 languages and recently launched in China.
  • First Psychologist to be awarded research funding by NESTA (National Endowment Science Technology and the Arts) for research on innovative people in organisations
  • Guest Editor Special Centenary & Millennium Edition of Journal of Occupational and Organisational Psychology; 2001.
  • Author of the Innovation Potential Indicator (IPI), a psychometric test used internationally, nominated by the Design Council for the Millennium 'Best of British' Award (2001).

Research interests and funding

Fiona's research interests are in the field of assessment, selection and innovation within organisations.  Her research in medical selection began whilst a Lecturer at the University of Nottingham, focusing on GP selection. This became the start of a long-term award winning research programme that has had a major impact on how GPs are now selected internationally. In partnership with the senior figures in the medical community her research has delivered new selection methodologies across the whole spectrum of medicine from medical/dental schools admissions (N=25,000 in the UK every year) through to selection for foundation training (N=8,000 per year) through to specialty recruitment (N=12,000 per year).  Her work in the UK has been adopted internationally and the impact of the research has been fundamental in influencing how doctors and the healthcare professions (including dentistry, veterinary care, etc) are selected and assessed.

Fiona's research and publications have had a major impact on policy and practice, based on robust research evidence. Most recently she delivered a major report on evaluating selection, assessment and education practices in the residential care home sector, following the Winterbourne View and Southern Cross enquiries in the UK. She is now advising Health Education England in recruitment issues for the NHS in light of the Francis report concerning care and compassion in healthcare workers. Fiona is a leading researcher advising on high stakes selection methodology across a range of professions internationally.

Fiona's programme of research in medicine uniquely involves the development of theoretical models of important non-cognitive skills required of doctors (empathy, communication and integrity) and the related design, implementation and validation of assessment methodologies. Supported by her research team, Fiona's activities have provided evidence for the introduction of innovative approaches to selection including situational judgment tests (SJT) and selection centers. These methods have now been adopted by all medical Royal Colleges in the UK (via the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges) and Medical Schools Council. Her research is now being embraced internationally (e.g. Royal College of Surgeons, Australasia; GP Education and Training in Australia, Netherlands, Denmark, USA, Singapore etc). More recently she has been researching issues regarding medical school admissions.

Example research activities and publications include:

  • Design and validation of a competency model and selection centre to select General Practitioners (with the GP National Recruitment Office, see Lievens & Patterson, Journal of Applied Psychology 2011; Patterson et al 2000, British J Gen Practice; 2001; 2005, 2010; British Medical Journal, 2011).
  • Design and validation of job analyses for secondary care specialties (see Patterson, Ferguson & Thomas, 2009, Medical Education; Patterson et al, 2009, Clinical Medicine).
  • Design, implementation and validation of selection methodologies, including the first application of Situational Judgment Tests (SJT) and selection centres in postgraduate medical training (Patterson et al 2009; Medical Education).
  • Evaluating the impact of the European Working Time Directive on doctors training and work organization (Davies & Patterson, 2006-2009)
  • Expert adviser in the design & evaluation of the Clinical Skills Assessment for the MRCGP licensing exam (in collaboration with Royal College of General Practice) (Munro et al, 2006, Ed Primary Care)
  • Royal College of Physicians selection test methodology (Patterson et al, 2009; Clinical Medicine).

Through Fiona's research interests in personality and individual differences, a second stream of research is exploring employee creativity and innovation in organisations. Fiona's research in this area includes:

  • In 2009, Professor Patterson was awarded a grant by NESTA (National Endowment for Science Technology and the Arts) to explore the characteristics and behaviours of innovative individuals in organisations. The research grant awarded by NESTA for work on innovation in organisations was the first time NESTA have given an award to a social scientist in this area.
  • Delivery of the CIPD Psychology of Creativity and Innovation post-graduate course as part of the accredited Psychology of Management CIPD certificate.  As part of this work she has published a workbook called The Psychology of Creativity and Innovation.
  • Fiona was appointed Academic Adviser to the UK government in 2000 advising on innovation in organisations via early evaluation of the Futurefocus i_Lab.
  • She has supervised several PhDs in the area of innovation, notably Dr Rebecca Port (2005); Manager characteristics that influence innovation; University of Sheffield and Dr Wissam Magadley 2006); Evaluation of creativity retreat centres; University of Sheffield.

Over the past 20 years, Fiona has attracted major research funding from a wide variety of sources, indicating her ability to collaborate with organisations and research councils (including the ESRC, EPSRC).  Examples include the Department of Health, Australian government, Royal College of Surgeons, Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, BUPA, NESTA, BERR, Ford of Europe, Coors Plc, Shell Plc, Royal Bank of Scotland, Home Office, Four Seasons Healthcare, Saint Gobain, National Police Improvement Agency, NHS Education Scotland and Scottish government.  She has a reputation for delivering quality research with high impact dissemination activities that influence policy and practice.

Selected publications

  • Patterson F, Lievens F, Kerrin M, Munro N & Irish B. (2013). The predictive validity of selection for entry into postgraduate training; evidence from three longitudinal studies. British Journal of General Practice. DOI: 10.3399/bjgp13X674413
  • Patterson F, Howe A, Tavabie A & Watson M. (2013). Is UK general practice education and training now fit for purpose? British Journal of General Practice, 567-568
  • Patterson F, Knight A, Stewart F, MacLeod S. (2013) How best to assist struggling trainees? Developing an evidence-based framework to guide support interventions. Education in Primary Care. 24: 330-9.
  • Patterson F, Tavabie A, Denney M, Kerrin M, Ashworth V, Koczwara A & Macleod S. (2013). A new competency model for general practice: Implications for selection, training and careers. British Journal of General Practice, 63: 249-50.
  • Patterson F, Lievens F, Kerrin M, Zibarras L & Carette B. (2012) Designing selection systems for medicine:  The importance of balancing predictive and political validity for high stakes selection. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 20(4), 486-496.
  • Cleland J, Dowell J, McLachlan J, Nicholson S. & Patterson F. (2012). Identifying best practice in the selection of medical students. London: General Medical Council. Available from:
  • Patterson F, Ashworth V, Mehra S & Falcon H. (2012). Can situational judgement tests be used to select for dental foundation training? British Dental Journal. 213, 23-26.
  • Patterson F, Ashworth V, Zibarras L, Coan P, Kerrin & O'Neill P. (2012). Evaluating situational judgement tests to assess non-academic attributes for selection. Medical Education. 46(9), 850-868.
  • Patterson F & Ferguson E. (2012) Testing non-cognitive attributes in selection centres: How to avoid being reliably wrong? Medical Education. 46:3, 240-246.
  • Koczwara A, Patterson F, Zibarras L, Kerrin M, Irish B & Wilkinson M. (2012). Evaluating cognitive ability, knowledge tests and situational judgement tests for postgraduate selection. Medical Education. 46: 399-408
  • Koczwara A, Tavabie A & Patterson F. (2011) Evaluation of GP appraiser development centres using emotional intelligence: Can positive learning outcomes be transferred to practice? Education in Primary Care. 22(6), 399-408.
  • Patterson F, Denney M, Wakeford R, Good D. (2011) Making assessment fair and equal in postgraduate training? A future research agenda. British Journal of General Practice. 61(593), 712-3.
  • Lievens F & Patterson F. (2011) The validity and incremental validity of knowledge tests, low-fidelity simulations, and high-fidelity simulations for predicting job performance in advanced level high-stakes selection. Journal of Applied Psychology. 96: 927-940.
  • Patterson F & Zibarras L. (2011) Exploring the construct of perceived job discrimination and a model of applicant propensity for case initiation in selection. International Journal of Selection & Assessment. 19(3): 251-257.
  • Patterson F, Zibarras L, Carr V, Irish B & Gregory S. (2011) Evaluating candidate reactions to selection practices using organizational justice theory. Medical Education, 45: 289-297.
  • Prideaux D, Roberts C, Eva K, Centeno A, McCrorie P, McManus C, Patterson F, Powis D, Tekian A, Wilkinson D (2011) Assessment for selection for the health care professions and specialty training: International consensus statement & recommendations. Medical Teacher. 33(3):215-23
  • Patterson F & Ashworth V. (2011) Situational judgement tests; the future for medical selection? British Medical Journal.
  • Irish B, Carr A, Sowden D, Douglas N, Patterson F. (2011) Recruitment into specialty training in the UK. British Medical Journal.
  • Irish B & Patterson F. (2010). Selecting General Practice speciality trainees - where next? British Journal of General Practice, 60(580), 849-852.
  • Gale T, Roberts M, Sice P, Langton J. Patterson F, Carr A, Anderson F, Lam W, Davies P. (2010) Predictive validity of a new selection centre testing non-technical skills for recruitment to training in Anaesthesia. British Journal of Anaesthesia. 105(5):603-9
  • Tavabie A, Koczwara A & Patterson F. (2010). Using emotional intelligence to facilitate strengthened appraiser development. Education in Primary Care. 21(1); 9-19.
  • Plint S & Patterson F. (2010). The way forward for recruitment into specialty training in the UK: Identifying critical success factors. Postgraduate Medical Journal, 86: 323-327.
  • Patterson F, Carr V, Zibarras L, Burr B, Berkin L, Plint S, Irish B & Gregory S. (2009). New machine-marked tests for selection into core medical training: Evidence from two validation studies. Clinical Medicine. 9(5), 1-4.
  • Patterson F, Baron H, Carr V, Lane P & Plint S. (2009) Evaluation of three short-listing methodologies for selection into postgraduate training: the case of General Practice in the UK. Medical Education, 43: 50-57.
  • Patterson F, Kerrin M, Gatto-Roissard. (2009). Everyday innovation. How to enhance innovation in employees & organisations. National Endowment for Science, Technology & Arts (NESTA) Research Reports, 43:1-54.
  • Patterson F & Kerrin M. (2009) Innovation for the recovery. Chartered Management Institute Research Reports, 1-24.
  • Patterson F, Ferguson E & Thomas S. (2008) Using job analyses to identify core and specific competencies for three secondary care specialties: Implications for selection and recruitment. Medical Education, 42:1195-204
  • Patterson F. (2007) Selection methodology; fact, fiction and the future. British Medical Journal, 335:802.
  • Silvester J, Patterson F, Koczwara A, & Ferguson E. (2007) Psychological and behavioral predictors of perceived physician empathy. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(2): 519-527.
  • Randall R, Davies H, & Patterson F & Farrell K. (2006) Selecting doctors for postgraduate training in paediatrics using a competency-based assessment centre. Archives of Disease in Childhood, 91:444-448.
  • Randall R, Stewart P, Farrell K & Patterson F. (2006) Using an assessment centre to select doctors for postgraduate training in obstetrics and gynaecology. Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. 8:257-262.
  • Munro N, Hawthorne K, Denney M, Patterson F, & Sales D. (2006) Developing a new clinical skills assessment for licensing UK general practitioners; the why and the how. Education in Primary Care, 17: 301-310.
  • Patterson F, Ferguson, E., Norfolk, T. & Lane, P. (2005) A new selection system to recruit GP registrars: Preliminary findings from a validation study. British Medical Journal. 330:711-714.
  • Beard J, Strachan A, Davies H, Patterson F, Stark P, Ball S, Taylor P & Thomas S. (2005). Developing an education and assessment framework for the Foundation Programme. Medical Education, 39:841-851.
  • Silvester J, Patterson F & Ferguson E. (2003) Comparing two attributional models of performance in retail sales: A field study. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 76(1): 115-132.
  • Patterson F. (2002) Great minds don't think alike? Person level predictors of innovation at work. International Review of Industrial and Organisational Psychology, 17:115-144.
  • Patterson F. (2001) Work and organizational psychology; emerging themes and future issues. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 74(4): 381-90.
  • Patterson F, Lane P, Ferguson E & Norfolk T. (2001) Competency based selection system for general practitioner registrars. British Medical Journal, 323: 2-3.
  • Patterson F, Ferguson E, Lane P, Farrell K, Martlew J & Wells A. (2000) A competency model for General Practice: Implications for selection and development. British Journal of General Practice, 50:188-193.
  • Silvester J, Anderson N & Patterson F. (1999) Organisational culture change. An inter-group attributional analysis. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. 72, 1-23.
  • Ferguson E. & Patterson F. (1998). The Five Factor Model of personality: openness as a distinct but related construct. Personality and Individual Differences, 24:5, 1-4.
  • Silvester J, Ferguson E & Patterson F. (1997) Comparing spoken attributions by German and UK engineers: evaluating the success of a culture change programme. European Journal of Work & Organisational Psychology, 6:1, 103-117.
  • Ferguson E, Kerrin M & Patterson F. (1997). The use of multi-dimensional scaling: a cognitive mapping technique in occupational settings. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 12: 3, 204-214.

Example Books, Book Chapters and Policy Reports

  • Patterson F, Ferguson E & Knight (2013). Selection for medical education and training. In T Swanwick (Ed) Understanding Medical Education: Evidence, Theory and Practice. Wiley-Blackwell (2nd Edition).
  • Patterson F. Patterson F & Kerrin M. (2013) Characteristics, Skills and Behaviours Associated with Innovative People in Organisations. IN Chell, E. (Ed.) Handbook of Research in Small Business and Entrepreneurship. Edward-Elgar.
  • Patterson F. (2013). Selection for medical education, training and practice. In K Walsh (Ed) Oxford Textbook for Medical Education. Oxford University Press.
  • Patterson F, Kerrin M & Zibarras L (2013). Employee innovation. Pitsis, T. S. (Ed.) International Handbook of Organizational and Managerial Innovation. Edward-Elgar.
  • Patterson F & Ferguson E. (2010). Selection for medical education and training. In T Swanwick (Ed) Understanding Medical Education: Evidence, Theory and Practice. Wiley-Blackwell, pp 352-365.
  • Arnold J, Randall R, Patterson F, Silvester J, Robertson I, Cooper C, Burnes B, Harris D, Axtell C, Den Hartog D. (2010) Work Psychology. (5th Edition) pp1-848. Pearson; FT Prentice Hall.
  • Patterson F. & Ferguson, E. (2007) Selection into medical education and training. ASME Understanding Medical Education Monographs, pp1-34.
  • Patterson F, Port R & Hobley, S. (2001). The Psychology of Innovation and Creativity: A review of research and practice in organisations. Chartered Institute of Personal Development, Psychology of Management.


  • Academy of Social Sciences
  • British Academy of Management
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Arts
  • Association for the Study of Medical Education                               
  • Chartered Occupational Psychologist & Full member BPS Division of Occupational Psychology
  • European Association of Work & Organisational Psychology
  • International Association of Applied Psychologists (IAAP)         

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