Stephen Woods

Professor Stephen Woods

Professor of Work and Organisational Psychology and Head of Department of People and Organisations
MSc (Occ Psych) PhD (Psych) CPsychol
+44 (0)1483 684418
43 MS 03

Academic and research departments

Department of People and Organisations.


Affiliations and memberships

British Psychological Society
Full Member of the Division of Occupational Psychology
Member of the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology
Academy of Management
Member of the US Academy of Management


Research interests

Indicators of esteem

  • Academy of Management (2018)

    Winner, best overall paper at the Careers Division of the AoM Conference 2018:

    Zhou, Y., Zou, M., Woods, S., & Wu, C. (2018, July). The Restorative Effect of Work after Unemployment. In Academy of Management Proceedings (Vol. 2018, No. 1, p. 11598). Briarcliff Manor, NY 10510: Academy of Management.

  • British Psychological Society, Division of Occupational Psychology (2019)

    Invited Keynote Speaker to Annual DOP Conference 2019.

    The Influence of Work on Personality Development and Change through Life: Implications for Thriving at Work



    Postgraduate research supervision




    Woods, S. A., Wille, B., Wu, C. H., Lievens, F., & De Fruyt, F. (2019). The influence of work on personality trait development: The demands-affordances TrAnsactional (DATA) model, an integrative review, and research agenda. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 110, 258-271.

    Woods, S. A., & Anderson, N. R. (2016). Toward a Periodic Table of Personality: Mapping Personality Scales Between the Five-factor Model and the Circumplex Model. Journal of Applied Psychology101(4), 582-604.

    Woods, S. A., Lievens, F., De Fruyt, F., & Wille, B. (2013). Personality across working life: The longitudinal and reciprocal influences of personality on work. Journal of Organizational Behavior34(S1), S7-S25.

    Woods, S. A., Ahmed, S., Nikolaou, I., Costa, A. C., & Anderson, N. R. (2020) Personnel selection in the digital age: a review of validity and applicant reactions, and future research challenges. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 1-14.

    Woods, S. A., & Hampson, S. E. (2010). Predicting Adult Occupational Environments From Gender and Childhood Personality Traits. Journal of Applied Psychology95(6), 1045-1057.

    Zhou, Y., Zou, M., Woods, S. A., & Wu, C. H. (2018). The Restorative Effect of Work after Unemployment: An Intra-individual Analysis of Subjective Well-being Recovery through Reemployment. Journal of Applied Psychology.

    Woods, S. A., Edmonds, G. W., Hampson, S. E., & Lievens, F. (2020). How our work influences who we are: Testing a theory of vocational and personality development over fifty years. Journal of Research in Personality85, 103930.


    Woods, S. A. & West, M. A. The Psychology of Work and Organizations. CENGAGE: London.

    Stephen A. Woods, Fiona Patterson (2023)A critical review of the use of cognitive ability testing for selection into graduate and higher professional occupations, In: Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology Wiley

    This article presents a critical review of the use of cognitive ability testing for access to graduate and higher professional occupations to promote further debate and reflection in both the academic and practitioner community. The main contentions are that the practice of applying cognitive ability testing in these contexts has strong potential to both maintain and exacerbate social inequality in access to higher occupations and professions, and that validity evidence does not justify this to the extent that has previously been presumed. Five critical observations are examined, namely (1) evidence of adverse impact in test outcomes; (2) the tendency to position cognitive ability testing early in selection processes in high-volume recruitment; (3) recent evidence challenging the meta-analytic validity of cognitive ability tests; (4) weaknesses in historical primary validity studies; (5) conceptually flawed examination of differential validity evidence in the literature. Implications for practice are discussed, contrasting strategies that involve modifying selection systems that include cognitive testing, versus removing and replacing cognitive tests.

    Joanna Ritz, Stephen A. Woods, Bart Wille, Sang Eun Woo, Annika Nübold, Nadin Beckmann, Reeshad Sam Dalal, Zvonimir Galic, Brenton Wiernik, Robert P. Tett, Jennifer Pickett, Neil Christiansen (2023)Personality at work, In: Personality Science4e7045 SAGE Publications

    Studies of personality at work have made significant contributions to theory and applied practice in work and organizational settings. This review article proposes that there are also reciprocal influences between core personality science and research on personality in work and organizations, each drawing on insights from the other. Following this tradition, the objective of this article is to review key foundations of research in a way that informs and critically reflects on state-of-the-art evidence in four main themes: (1) conceptualization and structure of personality at work, (2) personality assessment in work settings, (3) personality processes and dynamics at work, and (4) impact of situations on personaliy at work. Critically reflections on key implications, and directions for future research are presented, anticipating how the field may adapt to the changing nature of work and society. Relevance Statement The objective of this review is to set out key tenets and foundations of research in the area of personality at work in a way that informs and critically reflects on its development, and continued contributions to core personality science. Combining input from twelve researchers in the field, the article proposes that the development of research in personality science and in the area of personality in work and organizational settings is interdependent, each drawing reciprocally on insights from the other. We aim to review key findings in well-established literatures around the conceptualisation of personality and its role in assessment at work. However, our review also presents contemporary developments examining personality dynamics and the role of situations that are advancing understanding in the literature. This positioning leads us to set out future research questions and directions, which we believe are relevant for scholars shaping and contributing to this area in the coming years, reflecting changes to work and its place in society. Key Insights Core personality science and research into personality in work settings influence each other reciprocally through their development. Personality has been found to be important for understanding a wide array of organizational behaviors and outcomes. Recent developments examining personality dynamics and situations at work are challenging and advancing research findings. Studies of personality at work should continue to bridge different disciplines of research, responding to changes to work and its place in society.

    Stephen A. Woods, Uwe Napiersky, Wladislaw Rivkin (2023)Learning to self-lead: Examining self-leadership strategies, personality traits and learning attainment, In: Applied psychology72(3)pp. 1324-1338 Wiley

    This study examined self-leadership, an integrative concept in organisational behaviour and psychology, that represents a person's ability to manage themselves and improve their own performance through a combination of behavioural, cognitive and motivational strategies, in the context of learning and development outcomes. Change in three aspects of self-leadership (termed the Doing-self, Thinking-self and Energising-self) following a short development intervention was examined in a sample of management school students in a pre-intervention and postintervention design. The study also expanded upon the role of personality traits in moderating self-leadership change. The data additionally provide evidence of the association of self-leadership with learning attainment. The findings of this study underline the potential benefits of self-leadership learning and development. Implications for theory and practice in organisations are discussed.