Adrian was educated at the London School of Economics where he obtained a distinction in an MSc Econ., and at Oxford University where he completed a doctorate in 1981. He has subsequently earned a D.Sc and D.Litt degree. Previously a lecturer in Psychology at Pembroke College, Oxford, he was Professor of Psychology at University College London from 1992 to 2018. He has also been a Visiting Professor of Management at Henley Management College and has been made Adjunct Professor of Management at the Norwegian School of Management (2009) and Honorary Professor at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (2014).
He is currently the Principal Psychologist at Stamford Associates. He consults to many organisations in various different sectors (particularly airlines, banks, civil service) and in many different countries. He has written over 1300 scientific papers and 95 books and is on the editorial board of a number of international journals, as well as the past elected President of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences.