Professor Stephen Woods

Research Interests

My research interests are mainly in two areas:

1. Personality and work, particularly the interplay of traits with vocational development, effectiveness and well-being at work, and how personality changes and develops through working life.

2. Organisational and HRM assessment, particularly the design and application of assessments of personality traits and other individual differences in business and management.


Business and Organisational Psychology

Management Decision Making

Organisational Behaviour and Analysis

Departmental Duties

Head of Department: People and Organisations Department

Contact Me

Phone: 01483 68 6731

Find me on campus
Room: 43 MS 03

My office hours

Tuesday 10.30-12.00

Thursday 12.30-14.00


Journal articles

  • Russell E, Woods SA, Banks AP. (2017) 'Examining conscientiousness as a key resource in resisting email interruptions: Implications for volatile resources and goal achievement'. Wiley Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 90 (3), pp. 407-435.


    Within the context of the conservation of resources (COR) model, when a resource is deployed, it is depleted – albeit temporarily. However, when a ‘key’, stable resource, such as Conscientiousness, is activated (e.g. by using a self-control strategy, such as resisting an email interruption), we predicted that (1) another, more volatile resource (affective well-being) would be impacted, and that (2) this strategy would be deployed as a trade-off, allowing one to satisfy task goals, at the expense of well-being goals. We conducted an experience-sampling field study with 52 email-users dealing with their normal email as it interrupted them over the course of a half-day period. This amounted to a total of 376 email reported across the sample. Results were analysed using random coefficient hierarchical linear modelling (HLM), and included cross-level interactions for Conscientiousness with strategy and well-being. Our first prediction was supported – deploying the stable, key resource of Conscientiousness depletes the volatile, fluctuating resource of affective well-being. However, our second prediction was not fully realized. Although resisting or avoiding an email interruption was perceived to hinder well-being goal achievement by Conscientious people, it had neither a positive nor negative impact on task goal achievement. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

  • Woods SA, Mustafa M, Anderson N, Sayer B. (2017) 'Innovative Work Behavior and Personality Traits: Examining the Moderating Effects of Organizational Tenure'. Emerald Journal of Managerial Psychology,
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    Purpose: The literature on individual differences in innovative work behavior reveals inconsistencies in the relations of personality traits and tenure on innovation at work. To provide greater clarity about the effects of these antecendents, this paper reports a study of the moderating effects of tenure on the associations of traits and innovative work behavior, and applies a theoretical lens based on trait-activation theory. Methodology: 146 employees of a UK based financial institution completed measures of Conscientiousness and Openness, and had three aspects of innovative work behavior (idea generation, promotion, and realization) rated by their line-supervisor. All participants were on graduate training programmes. Hierarchical regression analyses were used to test the moderating effects of tenure on the associations of the self-reported traits with the supervisor-rated innovative work behavior outcomes. Findings: Tenure moderated the effects of Conscientousness on innovative work behavior, with highly conscientious employees being less innovative with longer tenure. Tenure moderated the effect of Openness with idea generation with highly open employees generating more ideas if they were longer tenured. Practical Implications: Management of innovation requires differentiated strategies based on the personality traits and tenure of individual employees. Implications for recruitment, socialization and development are discussed. Originality/Value: This is the first study to examine empirically the interactions of traits and contextual factors (i.e. organizational tenure) on innovative work behavior, framed around a strong theoretical foundation (i.e. trait activation theory). The study also makes notable contributions by measuring innovative behavior using a supervisor-rated and multidimensional approach.

  • Napiersky U, Woods SA. (2016) 'From the Workplace to the Classroom: Examining the Impact of Self-leadership Learning Strategies on Higher Educational Attainment and Success'. Taylor & Francis Innovations in Education and Teaching International,


    Self-leadership is a concept from the organizational and management literature broadly combining processes of self-goal setting, self-regulation and self-motivation. Research has typically focused on the impact of self-leadership on work performance outcomes, with little attention to potential benefits for learning and development. In this paper we employ a longitudinal design to examine the association of a number of processes of self-leadership with higher educational attainment in a sample of business students (N=150). Self-reported use of strategies related to behavioural, cognitive, and motivational aspects of self-leadership were measured in the first semester of the academic year, and correlated with end-of year grade point average. We found that in particular, self-goal setting, pro-active goal-related behaviour, behaviour regulation and direction, motivational awareness, and optimism were all significant predictors of educational attainment. We discuss implications for educational research and for teachers and tutors in practice.

  • Woods SA, Patterson F, Koczwara A, Sofat J. (2016) 'The value of being a conscientious learner: Examining the effects of the Big Five personality traits on self-reported learning from training'. Emerald Group Publishing Limited Journal of Workplace Learning: employee counselling today, 28 (7), pp. 424-434.


    Purpose – The aim of this paper is to examine the impact of personality traits of the Big Five model on training outcomes to help explain variation in training effectiveness. Design/methodology/approach – Associations of the Big Five with self-reported learning following training were tested in a pre- and post-design in a field sample of junior medical practitioners (N 99), who attended a training workshop on self-awareness. Associations are reported of personality traits with post-training learning measured immediately following the workshop and one-month later controlling for pre-training learning. Findings – Conscientiousness was related to post-training learning at both times. None of the remaining Big Five factors were associated with post-training learning. Research limitations/implications – The study contributes to the literature on personality and training outcomes, clarifying the associations of traits with outcomes in a pre-and-post design. Although the study sample has limitations, the findings have implications for numerous lines of future research, in particular in understanding the role of training in relations of personality and job performance. Practical implications – Practitioners should consider ways to encourage training participants to approach training conscientiously. Personality assessment might help people reflect on their approach to learning to adapt it during training. Originality/value – No study has previously examined the role of personality traits in training outcomes using a pre- and post-design. The role of conscientiousness in workplace learning is underlined by the findings. While dimensions such as openness and extraversion may encourage people to participate in training, conscientiousness may make the difference in promoting internalized individual development and change following training.

  • Jones R, Woods SA, Guillaume Y. (2016) 'The effectiveness of workplace coaching: A meta-analysis of learning and performance outcomes from coaching'. Wiley Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 89, pp. 249-277.


    This study presents a meta-analysis synthesizing the existing research on the effectiveness of workplace coaching. We exclusively explore workplace coaching provided by internal or external coaches and therefore exclude cases of manager-subordinate and peer coaching. We propose a framework of potential outcomes from coaching in organizations, which we examine meta-analytically (k = 17). Our analyses indicated that coaching had positive effects on organizational outcomes overall (δ = 0.36), and on specific forms of outcome criteria (skill-based δ = 0.28; affective δ = 0.51; individual-level results δ = 1.24). We also examined moderation by a number of coaching practice factors (use of multisource feedback; type of coach; coaching format; longevity of coaching). Our analyses of practice moderators indicated a significant moderation of effect size for type of coach (with effects being stronger for internal coaches compared to external coaches) and use of multisource feedback (with the use of multisource feedback resulting in smaller positive effects). We found no moderation of effect size by coaching format (comparing face-to-face, with blended face-to-face and e-coaching) or duration of coaching (number of sessions or longevity of intervention). The effect sizes give support to the potential utility of coaching in organizations. Implications for coaching research and practice are discussed.

  • Woods SA, Anderson NR. (2016) 'Toward a periodic table of personality: Mapping personality scales between the five-factor model and the circumplex model.'. Journal of Applied Psychology, 101 (4), pp. 582-604.


    In this study, we examine the structures of 10 personality inventories (PIs) widely used for personnel assessment by mapping the scales of PIs to the lexical Big Five circumplex model resulting in a Periodic Table of Personality. Correlations between 273 scales from 10 internationally popular PIs with independent markers of the lexical Big Five are reported, based on data from samples in 2 countries (United Kingdom, N = 286; United States, N = 1,046), permitting us to map these scales onto the Abridged Big Five Dimensional Circumplex model (Hofstee, de Raad, & Goldberg, 1992). Emerging from our findings we propose a common facet framework derived from the scales of the PIs in our study. These results provide important insights into the literature on criterion-related validity of personality traits, and enable researchers and practitioners to understand how different PI scales converge and diverge and how compound PI scales may be constructed or replicated. Implications for research and practice are considered. (PsycINFO Database Record

  • Woods SA, Hinton DP, von Stumn S, Bellman Jeffries J. (2016) 'Personality and Intelligence: Examining the Associations of Investment-related Personality Traits with General and Specific Intelligence'. European Journal of Psychological Assessment,
    [ Status: Accepted ]


    In this study, we examine the associations of the scales of the California Psychological Inventory (CPI; a measure of personality traits) with intelligence measured by four cognitive ability tests, completed by a sample of 4876 working adults. We framed our analyses of the correlations around the investment perspective on the personality-intelligence relationship that proposes traits are associated with investment in intellectual activity, which develops cognitive abilities over time. In particular, we report associations between investment-related scales (Intellectual Efficiency, Flexibility, Achievement via Independence, Psychological-mindedness, and Tolerance) and a higher-order personality factor (Originality) of the CPI with intelligence measured at broad and narrow levels of abstraction. We found positive associations between investment-related scales, and Originality with observed ability test scores and factor g extracted from test scores. We found positive associations of traits with unique variance in verbal ability measures, but negative with measures of quantitative and visuo-spatial abilities. Our study extends the literature on investment theories of intelligence-personality relations, is the first study to examine the associations of multiple scales of the CPI with intelligence measures, and adds much needed data to the literature from a working adult sample.

  • Woods SA, Patterson FC, Wille B, Koczwara A. (2016) 'Personality and occupational specialty An examination of medical specialties using Holland's RIASEC model'. EMERALD GROUP PUBLISHING LTD CAREER DEVELOPMENT INTERNATIONAL, 21 (3), pp. 262-278.
  • Guillaume YRF, Dawson JF, Otaye-Ebede L, Woods SA, West MA. (2015) 'Harnessing demographic differences in organizations: What moderates the effects of workplace diversity?'. Journal of Organizational Behavior,


    To account for the double-edged nature of demographic workplace diversity (i.e,. relational demography, work group diversity, and organizational diversity) effects on social integration, performance, and well-being-related variables, research has moved away from simple main effect approaches and started examining variables that moderate these effects. While there is no shortage of primary studies of the conditions under which diversity leads to positive or negative outcomes, it remains unclear which contingency factors make it work. Using the Categorization-Elaboration Model as our theoretical lens, we review variables moderating the effects of workplace diversity on social integration, performance, and well-being outcomes, focusing on factors that organizations and managers have control over (i.e., strategy, unit design, human resource, leadership, climate/culture, and individual differences). We point out avenues for future research and conclude with practical implications.

  • Guillaume YRF, Dawson JF, Priola V, Sacramento CA, Woods SA, Higson HE, Budhwar PS, West MA. (2014) 'Managing diversity in organizations: An integrative model and agenda for future research'. Routledge European journal of work and organizational psychology, 23 Article number 5 , pp. 783-802.
  • Jones RJ, Woods S, Hutchinson E, others . (2014) 'The Influence of the Five Factor Model of Personality on the Perceived Effectiveness of Executive Coaching.'. Oxford Brookes University Business School International Journal of Evidenced Based Coaching and Mentoring, 12 Article number 2 , pp. 109-118.
  • Woods SA, Sofat JA. (2013) 'Personality and engagement at work: the mediating role of psychological meaningfulness'. Wiley Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43 (11), pp. 2203-2210.
  • Woods SA, Lievens F, De Fruyt F, Wille B. (2013) 'Personality across working life: The longitudinal and reciprocal influences of personality on work'. John Wiley & Sons Ltd Journal of Organizational Behavior, 34 (S1), pp. S7-S25.
  • Guillaume YRF, Dawson JF, Woods SA, Sacramento CA, West MA. (2013) 'Getting diversity at work to work: What we know and what we still don’t know.'. Wiley Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 86 Article number 2 , pp. 123-141.
  • Woods SA, Hardy C. (2012) 'The higher-order factor structures of five personality inventories'. Elsevier Personality and individual differences, 52 Article number 4 , pp. 552-558.
  • Zibarras LD, Woods SA. (2010) 'A survey of UK selection practices across different organization sizes and industry sectors'. Blackwell Publishing Ltd Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 83 (2), pp. 499-511.


    This paper presents results of a study examining the methods used to select employees in 579 UK organizations representing a range of different organization sizes and industry sectors. Overall, a smaller proportion of organizations in this sample reported using formalized methods (e.g., assessment centres) than informal methods (e.g., unstructured interviews). The curriculum vitae (CVs) was the most commonly used selection method, followed by the traditional triad of application form, interviews, and references. Findings also indicated that the use of different selection methods was similar in both large organizations and small-to-medium-sized enterprises. Differences were found across industry sector with public and voluntary sectors being more likely to use formalized techniques (e.g., application forms rather than CVs and structured rather than unstructured interviews). The results are discussed in relation to their implications, both in terms of practice and future research.

  • Woods SA, Hampson SE. (2010) 'Predicting adult occupational environments from gender and childhood personality traits.'. American Psychological Association Journal of Applied Psychology, 95 (6), pp. 1045-1057.
  • Woods SA. (2008) 'Performance measures: the elusive relationship between job performance and job satisfaction'. Oxford University Press
  • Kouvonen AM, Väänänen A, Woods SA, Heponiemi T, Koskinen A, Toppinen-Tanner S. (2008) 'Sense of coherence and diabetes: a prospective occupational cohort study'. BioMed Central Ltd BMC Public Health, 8 Article number 1 , pp. 46-46.
  • Zibarras LD, Port RL, Woods SA. (2008) 'Innovation and the ‘Dark Side’of Personality: Dysfunctional Traits and their Relation to Self-Reported Innovative Characteristics'. Wiley Online Library The Journal of Creative Behavior, 42 Article number 3 , pp. 201-215.
  • Singh M, Woods SA. (2008) 'Predicting General Well-Being From Emotional Intelligence and Three Broad Personality Traits'. Wiley Online Library Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 38 Article number 3 , pp. 635-646.
  • Van Oudenhoven JP, de Raad B, Askevis-Leherpeux F, Boski P, Brunborg GS, Carmona C, Barelds D, Hill CT, Mlačić B, Motti F, others . (2008) 'Terms of abuse as expression and reinforcement of cultures'. Elsevier International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 32 Article number 2 , pp. 174-185.
  • Woods SA. (2008) 'Reinterpreting the great US department store bankruptcies of the 1980s - a catalyst to strategic structural change'. Emerald Journal of Management History, 14 (4), pp. 404-423.



    The financial restructuring of the US department store industry is commonly interpreted as a time of corporate excess, value-destruction and ultimately collapse. This research aims to re-analyse these events using qualitative methods to understand the background to the leveraged transactions and to review the implications that their failure had for the longer term strategy and structure of the US department store industry.


    The research is based on two extensive periods of fieldwork in the United States when the author interviewed (n=28) many of the protagonists of the 1980s restructuring period and those who inherited the management of the bankrupt businesses in the 1990s. By adopting a qualitative perspective, we are accessing social and human perspectives of these developments as well as their wider effects.


    The leveraged transactions were conceptually an appropriate attempt to centralise the structure of the industry but their execution was not possible under such extreme financial distress. However, bankruptcy protection provided the environmental conditions to realise the benefits of more efficient strategic and subsequent wide-ranging structural change.


    This research differs from economistic readings of the period that analyse changes in market value of the constituent firms and the more reactionary journalistic accounts. The paper re-casts the failed financial restructuring in a new light, underlining the regenerative effects of Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection in promoting firm revival, alongside visionary leadership.

  • Woods SA, Browne S. (2007) 'Convenience store location planning and forecasting - A practical research agenda'. Emerald International Journal of Retail and Distribution Management, 35 (4), pp. 233-255.



    To compare the accepted techniques of location analysis in the food sector with the realities of “real world” forecasting in convenience store (c-store) retailing. To offer a conceptual framework for c-store operators intending to become more strategic in their small store location planning but currently lacking established expertise or extensive research budgets.


    Outlines potential best practice based on industry experience, and contact and discussion with location analysts and retail consultants, as well as a wide ranging examination of the academic literature in this area.

    Research/practical implications:

    First, to briefly detail the strategic regulatory motivations and location planning implications of the major UK food retailers entering this market. Second, to summarise the established sales forecasting techniques in food retailing. Third, to review why these established approaches are difficult to apply to convenience stores in neighbourhood markets. Fourth, to detail basic approaches that should be further developed by small store operators lacking budgets to develop specialist location planning departments.


    Academic conceptualisations of location planning in the convenience store sector are largely absent from the literature. This paper adopts a practical perspective.

  • Darviri SV, Woods SA. (2006) 'Uncertified absence from work and the Big Five: An examination of absence records and future absence intentions'. Elsevier Personality and individual differences, 41 Article number 2 , pp. 359-369.
  • Dancer LJ, Woods SA. (2006) 'Higher-Order Factor Structures and Intercorrelations of the 16PF5 and FIRO-B'. Wiley Online Library International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 14 Article number 4 , pp. 385-391.
  • Woods SA, Hampson SE. (2005) 'Measuring the Big Five with single items using a bipolar response scale'. Wiley Online Library European Journal of Personality, 19 Article number 5 , pp. 373-390.
  • Woods SA. (2003) 'Five reasons to be optimistic about the future of personality assessment as a selection tool'. BRITISH PSYCHOLOGICAL SOCIETY Selection and Development Review, 19 Article number 4 , pp. 12-14.


  • Woods SA, West MA. (2014) The psychology of work and organizations. Cengage Learning EMEA

Theses and dissertations

  • Woods SA. (2004) Contextualising personality assessment: using meta-perceptions of the Big Five to improve the prediction of work performance.

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