Obituary: D. Mackenzie Davey

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The Independent Online
Douglas Mackenzie Davey, occupational psychologist: born 19 August 1922; married 1954 Denise Hampson (one son; one daughter); died London 19 September 1994.

D. MACKENZIE DAVEY was an occupational psychologist regarded as the doyen of a select group of people trusted by the business community to assess the suitability of candidates for senior management roles.

As an occupational psychologist, he made use of intelligence and personality tests in carrying out his assessments, but unlike many he understood their limitations and also used them in conjunction with his perceptiveness and his notable skill and sensitivity as an interviewer. He was widely respected for his objective judgement and his readiness to express his views, and to express them in plain English rather than in the jargon of his profession.

Mac Davey came from a Cornish/Scottish family and grew up in South Africa.

He began to study medicine but changed to psychology after the Second World War during which, as a member of the South African Medical Corps, he travelled to North Africa and Italy. He worked for the prestigious National Institute for Personnel Research and then in the gold-mining industry before coming to Britain in the 1950s. The National Institute of Industrial Psychology gave him an initial base in London and he subsequently worked for some of the leading management consultancies. A fiercely independent person, he established his own firm in 1962 and specialised in the assessment of senior managers, building many long-standing relationships with clients.

He was appointed Fellow of both the British Psychological Society and the Institute of Personnel Management. He was a lively and popular speaker at conferences and for many years taught courses on selection method at the institute: he aimed to encourage novice interviewers not to make superficial judgements based on appearances, but to base their conclusions about people on facts.

His publications, which are widely translated, are directed at the general reader. How to Interview (1975) and How to be Interviewed (1980) are essentially practical; while as co-editor of Judging People (1982) and author of How to be Good Judge of Character (1989) he aimed to answer the layman's questions about the more esoteric techniques - ranging from astrology to graphology - that are used to assess personality. He did not use these techniques himself, but it was characteristic that he should both know about them and show fairness in evaluating the claims made for them.

Mac Davey was a liberal- minded man. He was a staunch supporter of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and of women's rights. A lover of cricket, he enjoyed the flexibility his chosen career gave him to indulge this interest.

(Photograph omitted)