Peter Saville (psychologist)

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Peter Saville
Born (1946-10-26) 26 October 1946 (age 68)
London, England
Occupation Psychologist
Known for Psychometrics

Peter Francis Saville (born 26 October 1946 in North-West London) is a British Chartered Occupational Psychologist involved in talent management, best known for his work in psychometrics.[1]

In 1977, he earned his Ph.D. from research into personality structure [2] examined by Professor Hans Eysenck, on a representative sample of 2000 British adults, using a sampling methodology proposed by Claus Moser. Factor analysis provided a five variable solution of traits; Anxiety, Extraversion, Warmth, Imagination and Conscientiousness – effectively what was to become known as the Five Factor Model (FFM) or Big Five of Personality.

Saville created the original Occupational Personality Questionnaires [OPQ] in 1984, and was responsible for the British Standardisation of the 16 Personality Factor questionnaire in the early 1970s[2] - praised by the author, Professor R. B. Cattell.[3]

He is the chairman of the Saville Consulting Group.

Early life[edit]

Saville was born in London, UK. As a child he was diagnosed as dyslexic with a short term memory problem, later attributed to having been swung by the neck and sleeping strapped into a plaster bed at night as treatment for congenital scoliosis, a curvature of the spine.[4]

He obtained an Honours Degree in Psychology from the University of Leicester, followed by a Master of Philosophy Degree in 1974 and a Doctorate in 1977 from Brunel University.


He joined the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), the main publisher of psychometric tests at the time, as an assistant psychologist, adapting and standardising a wide range of psychological tests including the Wechsler scales. By the age of 27 he was promoted to Chief Psychologist in the Test Division, responsible for the standardisation of psychological and educational tests for clinical, educational and industrial use.[5] In 1977 he and Roger Holdsworth founded Saville and Holdsworth Limited (SHL) - a company they took from £100 to a flotation on the London Stock Exchange. It was subsequently subject to a buyout which was backed by HG Capital, who in turn sold it to CEB, making the brand worth over half a billion US$.[6] In 1984, Saville et al.[7] published the Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) which the British Psychological Society (BPS) described as 'groundbreaking for its time'. Developed for use in workplace settings, the original OPQ contained four different versions, allowing users the choice at what level of detail to work with. The Pentagon model, for example, measured five scales and was possibly the first dedicated measure of the Big Five factors of personality, pre-dating Costa and McCrae’s NEO-PI-R by a year. The Octagon, Factor and Concept versions of the OPQ measured respectively 8, 16 and 30 scales.

In 1998 Saville was listed by Enterprise Magazine as one of the UK's Top Entrepreneurs and in 2001 as one of Britain's Top Ten Psychologists,[8] the only Industrial Psychologist included. That same year his photograph hung in London's National Portrait Gallery after he was presented with the British Psychological Society Centenary Award for Distinguished Contributions to Professional Psychology.[9] His citation reads: "Ultimately the standardisation of questionnaires not specifically designed for an occupational arena made him frustrated and in 1977 led him set up his own company, which subsequently became SHL Group plc, with fellow Psychologist Roger Holdsworth. The widespread use of the tests which he developed by many major companies and public bodies is testament to the influence of his remarkable ideas".[10] In 2003, after 26 years, Saville parted company with SHL following an acrimonious EGM. The company had crashed in share price. Saville, Holdsworth and David Arkless, Senior Vice President of Manpower, challenged the board over a number of issues – including how the company was being run.[11] Saville was legally barred from speaking to friends and colleagues and in one interview he is described as having been "ill, grossly overweight and sluggish."[4] In fact since the mid-1990s he had been suffering from a medical condition – a benign pituitary tumour - wrongly diagnosed as depression. He had also incurred injuries to the neck from rugby and football injuries. Four weeks after Saville's removal by the SHL board, he was asked back as President but refused, opting instead to start his new company, Saville Consulting. In 2006 SHL was delisted from the London Stock Exchange.[12] following a management buy-out by HG Capital.[13]

A BPS eulogy reflecting on Peter’s career included a brief mention of his Ph.D, which looked at the factor structure of Cattell’s 16PF and was examined by Hans Eysenck, and also noted that he has twice built up highly successful companies which have become leaders in the field of workplace assessments. Peter has even been referred to as the ‘assessment guru’.[14] Richard Kwiatkowski referred to an interview with Peter as ‘exhausting’ but also stated that he was ‘fiendishly bright, quick, full of energy, proud of the achievements of his team, scientific and enthusiastic’ while Binna Kandola, one of the foremost occupational psychologists in the UK, has publicly called Saville ‘a genius’.

In an interview, George Sik, Consultant Psychologist at Eras ltd, stated that Saville was an inspiration, saying “Professor Peter Saville did so much to popularise the use of assessment in the workplace and was always such an innovator.”[15]

Today, Saville lives in Surrey, and works from his office in Esher, where he co-ordinates Saville Consulting Group which was acquired by Towers Watson for £42 million in April 2015.[16]

In 2007, Saville and colleagues carried out Project Epsom, a peer reviewed research program which showed the Wave questionnaire to be the most valid personality questionnaires in a global sample of workers.[17] In 2014, Salgado and Tauriz found that Saville Consulting Wave is in the category of questionnaires whose scoring design provides the most valid way to predict job performance. The research indicates that rather than either a solely normative (rating) or ipsative (ranking) approach, questionnaires which steer a middle course between the two approaches (such as is used with Wave which has both normative and ipsative scoring in a dynamic format) provide a method with greater validity.[18]

SHL attempted to stop Saville from using his name for his new company, but failed.[19][20]

He has been a specialist consultant to the United Nations in staff selection, spoken at over 40 International Conferences and featured on a number of TV and radio programmes, more recently on BBC Breakfast Business News when he was interviewed about leadership.[21] In 2012 an interview was published describing him as one of the most influential leaders from the world of testing.[22] He was International Consultant Psychologist to Mensa, where he succeeded Professor P E Vernon, and Psychometric Test Consultant to Hodder and Stoughton Educational. He has also worked for many FTSE 100 companies, the Ministry of Defence and charities such as Oxfam and the Royal National Institute for the Blind.

Saville is a Chartered Psychologist, a Chartered Scientist, was made a Fellow of the Institute of Directors in October 2012, is a member of the Royal Society of Medicine and also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. In January 2012 he was given Academic Fellowship of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD); the highest accolade that the CIPD can bestow [23] and on 15 June 2012 he was awarded the Honorary Fellowship of the British Psychological Society (BPS).[24] The fellowship is the highest that the BPS can confer and recognises excellence in psychology. It has been established for 100 years, and is currently held by only some 35 psychologists worldwide.[24] The eulogy published at the time stated that “Peter has enhanced the impact of psychology from both a practical and academic perspective, and his innovative approach continuously drives forward the research and application of psychology into the internet age.” It concluded by saying that “He is held in the highest esteem by academics worldwide and acknowledged as a major leader in the field of occupational psychology.”

Previous recipients of the BPS fellowship include Freud, Jung, Popper, Piaget, Spearman, Skinner and Chomsky.[25]

Saville was professor of occupational psychology at Queen's University from 1991 to 1997, and is currently visiting professor of Talent Management and Leadership at Kingston Business School, London.

Saville’s latest book, co-authored with Tom Hopton, is called ‘Psychometrics @ Work’ and was designed as an introduction to psychometrics. It has been described as “a masterpiece in the making” and “required reading for anyone wishing to undertake the Test User training, as it provides the essential grounding required to use tests appropriately."[26]

Personal details[edit]

Outside of work Saville's interests include sport, military history and music. He has three children from his first marriage to Jane (William David Saville, born 30/8/75; Frances Jane Saville, born 17/5/77; Christopher Sean Saville, born 18/7/84), and twins Faye and Jack (born 21 October 2009) with his second wife Jemaine. He and his wife are Patrons of The Willow Foundation[] which provide special events for seriously ill young people.

Selected works and speeches[edit]

  • Saville, P. (1971). British Supplement to the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. The Psychological Corporation: London.
  • Saville, P. (1972). The National Adult Standardisation of 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF). NFER: London.
  • Saville, P. & Blinkhorn, S. (1976). Undergraduate Personality by Factored Scales. NFER: London.
  • Saville, P. & Blinkhorn, S. (1981). Reliability, homogeneity and the construct validity of Cattell's 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF). Personality and Individual Differences, 2, 325-333.
  • Saville, P., Holdsworth, R., Nyfield, G., Cramp, L. & Mabey, W. (1984). The Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ). SHL: London.
  • Saville, P. & Wilson, E. (1991). The reliability and validity of normative and ipsative approaches in the measurement of personality. Journal of Occupational Psychology, 64, 219-238.
  • Saville, P. & Sik, G. (1991). Ipsative scaling: A comedy of measures, as you Likert or much ado about nothing? Guidance and Assessment Review, 7(3), 1-4.
  • Saville, P. (2004). Childhood Trauma, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Facial Pain and Fibromyalgia. Dysfunctional Growth Hormone and Dopamine Regulation? The Procrustes Foundation.
  • MacIver, R., Saville, P., Kurz, R., Mitchener, A., Mariscal, K., Parry, G., Becker, S., Saville, W., O'Connor, K., Patterson R., Oxley, H. (2006). Making Waves: Saville Consulting Wave Styles questionnaires. Selection and Development Review, 22(2), 17-23.
  • Saville, P. (Nov. 2006) Transforming Assessment and Talent Management. Keynote Speech in Paris, France.
  • Saville, P. (2006) Beyond the OPQ? Keynote Speech at Assoc. of Business Psychologists, Cambridge, UK.
  • Saville, P., Kurz, R., MacIver, R., Mitchener, A., Parry, G., Oxley, H., Archer, J., Lishman, J., Mason, J. & Roscorla, P. (2007). Validation of the Saville Consulting Analysis Aptitude Assessment Range. Paper presented at the BPS Occupational Psychology Conference, Bristol, UK.
  • Saville, P., MacIver, R. & Kurz, R. (2007). Internet Testing – Secure and Honest? Poster at the BPS Occupational Psychology Conference, Bristol, UK.
  • Saville, P. Kurz, R, MacIver, R., Parry, G., Mariscal, K., Mitchener, A. Oxley, H., Small, C., Sisodia, S., Miller, S. & Fullman, C. (2007). Predicting Work Competencies, Proficiency and Potential for Promotion with Saville Consulting Wave Questionnaires. Poster at the EAWOP Conference, Stockholm.
  • Kurz, R., MacIver, R., Saville, P., Parry, G., Oxley, H., Mariscal, K., Staddon, H., Hopton, T., Small, C. & Feindt, S. (2007). Construct Validation of the Saville Consulting Wave ® Types Model of Leadership Potential. Paper presented at the BPS Coaching Psychology Conference, London.
  • Kurz, R., Saville, P., & MacIver R. (2008). Coaching using Saville Consulting Wave. In: Passmore. J. (Ed): Psychometrics in Coaching. Kogan Page, London
  • Saville, P., MacIver, R., Kurz, R. & Hopton, T. (2008). Project Epsom: How Valid is Your Questionnaire? Phase 1: A new comparative study of the major personality questionnaires in predicting job performance.
  • McDowall, A., Kurz, R., MacIver, R. & Saville, P. (2008). A rejoinder to David Bartram, October, 2008. The Coaching Psychologist, 4(3), 142-149.
  • Oxley, H., Kurz, R., MacIver, R., Saville, P., Jayne, S. & Small, C. (2008). Performance and Potential… A Potential Paradox? Paper at the BPS DOP Conference, Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK.
  • Kurz, R., MacIver, R., Saville, P., Oxley, H. & Roscorla, P. (2008). Practical Policy Considerations on Internet Test Security and Score Interpretation – Cheating Candidates or Candidates that Cheat? Paper at the BPS DOP Conference, Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK.
  • Saville, P., MacIver, R. & Kurz, R. (2008). Free Choice or Forced Choice? Your Choice. Paper at the International Test Commission Conference, Liverpool, UK.
  • Saville, P. (2008). Measurement of Leadership : The X Factor (and the Y). Keynote Speech at A & DC Conference, London, UK.
  • Saville, P. (Jan 2009) Leadership in Elite Performance. Keynote Speech at Metro Conference, New York, USA.
  • Saville, P. and Hopton, T. (2009). "Talent": Psychologists Personality Test Elite People. Saville Consulting Group: Jersey.[16]
  • Saville, P., MacIver, R. & Kurz, R. (2009). Saville Consulting Wave® Professional Styles Handbook. Saville Consulting Group, Jersey.
  • Kurz, R., MacIver, R. & Saville, P. (2009). Measurement, Prediction and Development of Behaviour, Ability & Global Aspects of Work Effectiveness. 2nd European Coaching Psychology Conference, 15 December 2009, London.
  • Kurz, R., Saville, P., MacIver, R., Mitchener, A., Parry, G., Oxley, H., Mariscal, K., Staddon, H. & Hopton, T. (2009). ‘Matched Model’ Co-Validation of Three Swift Aptitude Assessments within the Saville Consulting Wave ® Performance Culture Framework. Paper presented at the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology Conference (DOP), Blackpool, UK.
  • Kurz, R., Saville, P., MacIver, R. & Oxley, H. (2009). A is for Ability: The Validity of Three Swift Aptitude Assessments against the Matched Ability Criterion Model in the Saville Consulting Wave ® Performance Culture Framework. Paper at the European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology (EAWOP) Congress, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, May 2009.
  • Kurz, R., Saville, P., MacIver, R., Parry, G., Mitchener, A., Oxley, H., Small, C., Herridge, K., Hopton, T., Gohil, S., Chan, S., Tonks, R. & Rojon, C. (2009). The structure of work effectiveness as measured through the Saville Consulting Wave® Performance 360 ‘B-A-G’ Model of Behaviour, Ability and Global Performance. BPS PTC Assessment & Development Matters, Volume 1, Edition 1.
  • Saville, P., MacIver, R., Kurz, R., Hopton, T., Staddon, H., Mitchener, A., Tonks, K., Schmidt, G., Schmidt, S. & Saville, J. (2009). A Step Towards Validity Generalisation Across Self-Report Personality Questionnaires: A Co-Validation of Saville Consulting Wave Professional Styles, Wave Focus Styles, Saville PQ, OPQ32i, NEO-PI-R, Hogan Personality Inventory and 16PF5. Paper presented at the BPS Division of Occupational Psychology (DOP) Conference, Blackpool, UK.
  • Hopton, T., Kurz, R., MacIver, R. & Saville, P. (2010). Analysis Aptitude Range Handbook. Saville Consulting Group, Jersey.
  • Kurz, R, Saville, P., MacIver, R. & Hopton, T. (2010). Stakeholder perspectives on behaviour, ability and global performance: Evidence for a Three-Factor Model. Paper at the BPS DOP Conference, Brighton, UK.
  • Kurz, R, Saville, P., MacIver, R. & McDowall, A. (2010). Coaching with Saville Consulting Wave: Balancing Dark and Bright Sides. Paper at the BPS Coaching Psychology Congress, London, UK.
  • MacIver, R., Kurz, R, Saville, P. & Hopton,T. (2011). Measuring Effectiveness Potential using Saville Consulting Wave®: Getting it Right. Paper at the BPS DOP Conference, Brighton, UK.
  • Saville, P., MacIver, R., Hopton, T. & Smith, J. (2011). Leadership Handbook. Saville Consulting Group, Jersey.
  • Saville, P. (2011). Personality, Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness. Presentation at ‘The Psychometrics Forum’. London, UK.
  • Saville, P. (2008)Valid Inferences - False Prophecies. BPS Keynote Speech Stratford upon Avon, Warwickshire, UK.
  • Saville, P. (Aug 2008) Does your Test Work? The Co-Validation against Job Performance of 10 of the most popular Personality Questionnaires - Implications for Psychology. Keynote Speech at SIOPSA 14th Conference South Africa.
  • Saville, P. (May 2010) New Horizons in Psychometric Assessment. Keynote Speech at BPS DOP Divisional Conference Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • Saville, P. (Sept. 2011) Improving People and Organisation in the Workplace with Saville tools; So can Psychometrics Improve Recruitment Decisions. Keynote Speeches Istanbul, Turkey.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (Dec. 2011) Personality, Talent Management and Organizational Efficiency. Keynote Speech Beijing China.
  • Saville, P., Small, C.(June 2012) Leadership: What Psychometrics Reveal. Invited Speech Mumbai,India.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (June 2012) Psychometrics beyond the HR Department. Invited Speech Bengalaru, India.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (June 2012) Psychometrics for better HR decisions. Invited Speech Delhi, India.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (June 2013) It's All in your Head. Invited address at the EGADE Business school, Mexico City, Mexico.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (2013) Assessing Leadership. Invited address at the USEM Social Union of Entrepreneurs, Mexico City, Mexico.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (2013) Psychometrics and the Impact on Selection Decisions. Keynote at the ICA Conference, Mexico City, Mexico.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (2013) Human Talent. Invited address at the Las Allas World Wide Teleconference, Monterey, Mexico.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (2013) Better Selection at Work: The Return on Investment. Invited address at the Egade Business School, Monterey, Mexico.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (2013) Advances in Workplace Psychometrics. Invited address at the ERIAC HR Summit, Monterey, Mexico.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (Nov.2013) Leadership and The Power of Self-knowledge. Invited Speech Insper Institute, Brazil.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (Nov.2013) Lessons in Leadership. Invited Speech, Bl International, Brazil.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (Nov.2013) Lessons in Leadership: The Drivers of Leadership Success. Invited Speech Fundacao Getulio Vargas, Brazil.
  • Saville, P., Small, C. (Nov.2013) Cost Benefit of Testing to the Organization: Understanding the Organizational Upside. Invited Speech, D & Consulting, Brazil.
  • Saville, P., Small, C.(Nov.2013) Lessons in Leadership: Identifying the Drivers of Leadership Success. Invited Speech Instituto Presbiteriano Mackenzie, Brazil.
  • Saville, P., Herridge, K.(2013) Avatars, Data and Decisions. Address to the Chartered Institute of Management Jersey.
  • Saville, P. (2014) Interviews Tony Adams MBE on leadership. Saville Consulting International Conference
  • Saville, P., Hopton, T (2014) ‘Psychometrics @ Work’, Saville Consulting
  • Saville, P., Hopton, T (2015) ‘So you're an Industrial Psychologist. But what do you actually do?’ Invited talk at Eton College
  • Saville, P. (2015) Acceptability, Decision Making and Cost Benefit in Selection Testing, Goldsmiths Distinguished Speakers Series


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ Smith, P. (1994) - "The Standardization of the 16PF5: A Supplement of Norms and Technical Data". Windsor: ASE
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ See Selected works, 1971 and 1972, above.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Saville, P., Holdsworth, R., Nyfield, G., Cramp, L. & Mabey, W. (1984)
  8. ^ Independent on Sunday, 14 October 2001
  9. ^ Still in Love with Psychology :
  10. ^ The Psychologist, Vol.14 No.2, February 2001, page 100
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Kwiatkowski, Richard. "Still in Love With Psychology" (PDF). The Psychologist. 
  15. ^ Sik, George (March 2010). "One on One With... George Sik". The Psychologist 23: 264. 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Saville, Peter; Hopton, Tom. Psychometrics @ Work. Saville Consulting. p. 166. ISBN 978-0-9562875-6-4. 
  18. ^ Saville, Peter; Hopton, Tom. Psychometrics @ Work. Saville Consulting. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-9562875-6-4. 
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ "Great Careers in Testing". 11/4/2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  23. ^ People Management.Co.Uk March 2012
  24. ^ a b The Psychologist August 2012
  25. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^ Saville, Peter; Hopton, Tom. Psychometrics @ Work. Saville Consulting. p. Blurb. ISBN 978-0-9562875-6-4.