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Stefano Passini

Associate Professor

Department of Education Studies "Giovanni Maria Bertin"

Academic discipline: M-PSI/05 Social Psychology


  • Values transmission ​​and the relationship with the authority.
  • The concept of moral inclusion/exclusion.
  • Violent behavior and substance abuse: the role of social reputation and moral disengagement.
  • The binge consuming culture between autonomy and dependence
  • Responsibility, rights and duties: Education for democracy and active citizenship.

Values transmission and the relationship with the authority
Starting from a conceptualization of obedience to the authority as a basis for the transmission of values, rules and culture of a society and of disobedience as a basis for the innovation and the changes in these values over time, this research highlights how the relationship between change and tradition is centered on a shared sense of responsibility among young people and adults. How Benasayag and Schmit (2003) asserted, entering and accepting the principle of authority, all the people accept their belonging to the society as a responsibility that is expressed in the possibility of transforming what was, is and will be and of challenging the rules on condition to respect the continuity of society. Focusing on the concepts of mutual listening and of responsibility, this research analyzes the dynamics between the concepts of constructive obedience and prosocial disobedience as the basis for the evolution of society and culture, distinguishing them from those aspects of obedience and disobedience involved in the degeneration of the relationship of authority in an authoritarian relationship.
Main publications:
Passini, S., & Morselli, D. (2010). Disobeying an illegitimate request in a democratic or authoritarian system. Political Psychology, 31, 341-356.
Passini, S., & Morselli, D. (2010). Psicologia dell'obbedienza e della disobbedienza. Roma: Carocci.
Passini, S., & Morselli, D. (2009). Authority relationships between obedience and disobedience. New Ideas in Psychology, 27, 96-106.

The concept of moral exclusion/inclusion
Starting from the literature that has analyzed the concept of moral exclusion, delegitimization and moral disengagement, this research has focused on the construction of scales to analyze the concept of moral inclusion and exclusion and on the application of these scales to the study of moral reasoning and of moral identity. Moral exclusion is defined as excluding other individuals or social groups by one's own "moral community", i.e. considering those people as outside the boundaries within which moral values and the shared rules of justice and fairness generally apply. On the contrary, the process of moral inclusion implies the extension of social justice to groups that previously were excluded. As demonstrated by recent authors, we all have finite limits for justice. Our obligations - influenced by social conventions and personal norms - are stronger for those individuals considered psychologically "close." In this sense, moral exclusion is evident in all the ordinary and common exclusions, such as hatred towards immigrants and towards people of different cultures. In a period where prejudice towards immigrants is often socially approved, the application of this research is to create educational activities through which – by discussing with adolescents and young adults about the processes of moral inclusion/exclusion and about the concept of distance/social proximity - people may become more aware of the boundaries of justice and how these can be enlarged.
Main publications:
Passini, S. (2010). Moral reasoning in a multicultural society: Moral inclusion and moral exclusion. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour, 40, 435-451.
Passini, S. (2005). Costruzione e validazione di una scala sull'esclusione morale. Testing Psicometria Metodologia, 12, 21-34.

Violent behavior and substance abuse: the role of social reputation and moral disengagement
Starting from the recent interest of the media and the scientific literature about the escalation of violent incidents involving teenagers and for the gradual reduction in the age of first contact with drugs, this research is focused on: i. highlighting how the relationship between substance use and violence behaviors is not direct but mediated by several intervening factors; ii. Identifying the specific role of social reputation and moral disengagement as variables that affect both the implementation of violent behavior and drug use. In line with studies on social reputation the deviant action - like that in line with social norms – corresponds to a strategy that individuals use to build and maintain a reputation within the social context in which they interact and reflects their orientation toward formal authority. The applicative aim of this research is the design of educational interventions with adolescents that give them a space for discussing and reflecting on the importance of moral commitment and of responsibility in promoting prosocial behaviors and as protective factors against risky behaviors.
Main publications:
Passini, S. (2012). The delinquency-drug relationship: The influence of social reputation and moral disengagement. Addictive Behaviors, 37, 577-579.

The binge consuming culture between autonomy and dependence

One of the specific traits of today's consumer culture is to foster dissatisfaction and a continual attempt to reach fulfillment. An "apparently endless pursuit of want” (Campbell, 1989, p. 37) in which satisfaction is substituted by the eternal search for it. As several authors have pointed out, the "insatiability of desire" is essential to the maintenance of the same socio-economic order. That is, it is the engine that drives the mechanism necessary for the lucrative economic system. A vicious circle in which the market induces an unrestrained consumerism to produce large quantities of consumer goods that in turn require a growing number of consumers. The encounter with psychoactive substances, and their use and abuse, can not be separated from the analysis of this consumerism model that encourages adolescents to search for immediate satisfaction, driving to the ongoing search for high performances and excessive behaviors. Nowadays, psychoactive substances are not only always available and easily accessible - as the market is full of them - to adolescents, but they have acquired a particular image of normality and a supporting function to a certain identity construction of teenagers. In this research, the concept of binge is analyzed starting from the studies on consumer society and from the influence of culture on addictive behaviors to focus on individual motivations to substance use.
Main publications:
Passini S. (2013). A binge consuming culture: The effect of consumerism on social interactions in Western societies. Culture & Psychology, 19, 366-387.

Responsibility, rights and duties: education for democracy and active citizenship
In line with recent studies that have investigated the complementary - rather than antagonistic - relationship between individual rights and duties, this research is focused on the study of social responsibility as a key concept of the link between the individual and society. In particular, the importance of the assumption of a role of active participation by the individual in his/her relationships with society and its institutions and the importance that education for democracy and for citizenship plays in the promotion of the respect of everyone's rights and duties are emphasized. The application intent is therefore to explore the ways in which it is possible to create educational activities for teenagers and young adults for the promotion of democratic and active citizenship and focused on the understanding that the respect for human rights depends on the individual assumption of social responsibility.
Main publications:
Passini, S. (2011). Individual responsibilities and moral inclusion in an age of rights. Culture & Psychology, 17, 281–296.
Passini, S., & Emiliani, F. (2009). Social representations of rights and duties in young Italians and Albanians. Swiss journal of psychology, 2, 89-98.