Anthony Dickinson received his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Manchester in 1967 and his doctorate from the University of Sussex in 1971. After a period of post-doctoral research, he took up a lectureship in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Cambridge in 1977. Following promotion to a professorship in comparative psychology in 1999, he was elected to a professorial fellowship of Hughes Hall and then to the fellowship of the Royal Society in 2004. He retired in 2011.
His research investigates the psychological processes underlying learning, memory, and motivation in humans and other animals.