Silia Passeri

Silia Passeri

Silia Passeri
  • Laurea, Psychology, University of Florence

Biographical Information

Silia Passeri earned her Italian Laurea in Psychology with a specialization in Educational and Developmental Psychology from the University of Florence. Her thesis concentrated on the research methods of psychology and the analysis of data regarding amodal completions during locomotion.  After completing her degree she was awarded two clinical internships in Florence.  At the Azienda Sanitaria Locale (Public Health System) of Santissima Annunziata she was charged with making pre-and-post adoption evaluations and directing a post-adoption counseling course. At the Department of Neurological and Psychiatric Sciences at the Hospital of Careggi she was charged with counseling patients and collaborated with the Department of Clinical Psychology on three research projects: "Near-death Experiences," "Attempted Suicide," and "Charles Bonnet Syndrome". In 2006 she published an article entitled "With the Eyes of the Mind. Charles Bonnet Syndrome (CBS), A Review of the Literature and Presentation of Six Cases," which stemmed from her presentation of research at the conference of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology. Since 2004 she has presented research at several different Psychology conferences.

Current Research Interests

Dr. Passeri is currently working on the research project: "Cross-cultural transition experienced by American University students in Florence." The study examines the psychological and social processes involved in intercultural contact, including managing stress, coping with unfamiliar environments, and the learning process manifest in the cross-cultural sojourn.

Clinical experience

Dr. Passeri is a certified psychologist (accredited by the Board of Tuscan Psychologists) and provides psychological counseling to students and staff members of several American University programs in Florence. She also conducts a workshop on "Mental Health Concerns. How can professionals help?" These workshops focus on detection and approaching students who may have psychological problems, providing a support system for administrators who work with international students.

Course Descriptions

Cross-cultural Psychology (PSIC 355)
This course introduces students to the research and theoretical foundations of cross-cultural psychology. The course focuses on the influence of culture upon individual human behavior, examining factors leading to socio-cultural similarities and differences in action, thought, emotion, personality and behavioral norms. Included is an examination of culture shock and the influence of culture in group interaction.

A section of the course will be dedicated to the exploration of the theoretical issues underlying social stereotyping and prejudicial attitudes, as well as the consequences that stereotypes and prejudice have for those who are targeted by them. Discussion will concentrate on the implications prejudices have on large group social settings and contexts within which a variety of groups, including race or ethnicity, nationality, gender, and sexual orientation co-exist.

Students' own cross-cultural experiences in Florence will be explored and utilized on a case-by-case basis through experientially-based activities in order to explore the principals and issues of cross-cultural psychology and intercultural communication.

Method and objectives
The course is divided into three sections. The first examines the psychological aspects of cultural transition, including how to minimize the adverse effects of culture shock and to maximize the positive psychological outcomes of cultural contact. The second section is conducted through lectures supported by power-point presentations, and is based on the theoretical frameworks of cross-cultural psychology. During the last part of the course, each student will lead class discussion for one half-hour time slots and provide feedback on classmates' work. The presentation will be based on a research paper that closely examines a relevant issue in the area of cross-cultural psychology in which the student is interested. Research can either be individual or group projects. The purpose of the final paper is to encourage students to think critically and broadly about psychological theory and concepts and consider their applicability to everyday life.

The main teaching and learning objectives of the course are:

  • To introduce cross-cultural theoretical frameworks.
  • To examine the concepts and processes necessary for cross-cultural research.
  • To help students understand behavioral differences in individuals among various cultural groups.
  • To help students understand their own cultural backgrounds and the dynamics of their cross-cultural experience  through the exploration of Italian culture, leading to discoveries of cultural and psychological variations that may not be present in their own cultural contexts.
  • To improve intercultural communication.
  • To help students understand and think critically about the various manifestations of prejudice in society and help them apply psychological perspectives for the reduction of prejudice in everyday life.

The course includes role-playing exercises aimed at the exploration of biases and prejudices and the possibility for their reduction in contemporary society.