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Accreditata MUR con D.M. 02/12/2005
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Scienze psicologiche delle risorse umane, delle organizzazioni e delle imprese, classe L-24

Psychology of personality and individual differences


Anno accademico: 2021/2022



Crediti: ECT: 6 CFU

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Gian Paolo Mazzoni is a psychologist, cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist (CBT) and EMDR. He works as an EABCT (CBT European Society) accredited therapist as well as SITCC teacher and EMDR European supervisor at the four-year course of Specialisation in CBT Psychotherapy in Florence and Modena. Graduated from the University of Florence in July 2007, he studied Psychodynamic Psychodiagnostics at the University of Padua with the research group of Prof. Adriana Liss. From 2007 to 2010, he was an assistant professor for the Degree Course in Psychology at the University of Florence with Prof. Teresa Lorito.

He subsequently studied at the “Studi Cognitivi” postgraduate School of Psychotherapy in Florence, graduating with honours. He also served as Co-head of the Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder Treatment Unit at the “Poggio Sereno” Neuropsychiatric Clinic in Florence.

He has had numerous training experiences abroad such as the Advance Training Course on Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy at Albert Ellis Institute of New York in 2015. He has also spent time training on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Obsessive Disorder with Prof. Edna Foa at the Department of Psychiatry, Philadelphia University, in Israel at the Trauma Center of Tel Aviv and at the Dissociative Disorders Unit at the Behavioural Health University in Denton (Texas) in the USA with Prof. Colin Ross.

The course is organised in two modules during which it is intended to provide an overview of the main topics of research and application to personality development and individual differences.

The programme of the two modules is detailed below:

  • Module 1 – Theories and instruments of personality assessment

This module aims to present the main theoretical orientations and to provide an overview of the historical developments in the discipline. The aim is to introduce the student to the main theories of personality and individual differences, with particular reference to the following topics: – Trait theory – Behaviourism – Physiological bases of personality and individual differences – Freud and psychodynamic approaches – Rogers’ humanistic perspective – Bandura’s cognitive-social theory – The cognitive approach to the study of personality, through G. Liotti’s theory of G. Kelly’s theory in the light of the most recent research on attachment styles – Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of each perspective and grasping the areas of overlap and the peculiarities of the different theoretical perspectives, both from a content and methodological point of view – Personality styles and clinical aspects – Personality in personnel selection processes, counselling and in clinical and legal assessment interviews. Tests and instruments for assessing personality will also be presented, with particular attention to their use in various application contexts.


  • Module 2 – Risk and protective factors in personality development

This module addresses the issue of personality differences over the life course, in the light of risk and resource factors in the development of the individual, in relation to moments of crisis and transition in the different stages of transition. Particular reference will be made to the following topics: psychological trauma as a risk factor in the development of the self – the developmental pathway of attachment and traumatic development – Adverse Child Experience: possible psychological and psychopathological outcomes of the worst childhood experiences – stability and change of personality. The understanding and assessment of personality in personnel selection and clinical settings, in the light of the subject’s life history.

This course is an introduction to the study of personality. The (basic) notions of the theoretical explanations for understanding personality development will be provided and several theories will be explored. During the course, how personality is assessed will be investigated.

The focus will be on approaches that psychology has developed for understanding personality and on applications for organisational processes. Learning the assessment tools of individual differences in the analysis of personality and life history events will also be examined on the course.

The course will present the main theoretical orientations, themes and research strategies developed in the field of the psychology of personality and individual differences. It will also provide an insight into the evolutionary development of personality in order to understand the fundamental structural elements, processual aspects and dynamics of development. In addition, the course aims to outline examples of tools for the study and investigation of personality contextualised to the various fields in which the psychologist operates.

A. Knowledge and understanding:
▪ to deepen the main themes and theoretical approaches in the psychology of personality and individual differences;
▪ to enable critical reflection on different perspectives of personality analysis;
▪ to propose possible techniques and tools for assessing the personality, interpersonal relationships and life history of individuals.

B. Applied knowledge and understanding:
▪ recognising the personality factors and life episodes involved in the overall functioning of the individual;
▪ to deepen the use of tools for assessing personality and interpersonal relationships.

C. Autonomy of judgement:
▪ ability to read and reflect critically and operationally on basic elements of personality profiles and interpersonal relationships throughout development;
▪ to practise the application of the theoretical contents learnt during the course to a case study.

D. Communication skills:

▪ clarity and conciseness in the definition of the historical, theoretical and applicative contents deepened through the course hours, the recommended readings and the proposed projects.

E. Learning capacity:
▪ in-depth study of the contents and tools for interpreting personality and individual differences in the various contexts in which the psychologist works.

A. Use of advanced textbooks and materials provided and participation in the 2 proposed e-activities, knowledge of some cutting-edge topics within the discipline of psychology of personality and individual differences.

B. Professional approach to work and possession of appropriate skills to devise arguments, support them and solve problems within the field of study and investigation of personality and individual differences. Ability to collect and interpret data useful for making independent assessments and judgements.

C. Ability to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to specialist and non-specialist interlocutors, relating to issues and tools in the field of personality study and individual differences

D. Ability to undertake subsequent studies with a high degree of autonomy, related to the issues involved in the study of personality in various application contexts.


  • 4 hours of recorded video lessons available on the platform.
  • 2 synchronous platform meetings.
  • podcasts of all the video lessons mentioned above.



  • 1 course orientation forum.
  • 2 thematic follow-up forums (1 per module).
  • Possibility to carry out work in groups.
  • 2 structured e-activities (as described in the section “in itinere assessment methods”).



Teaching materials are provided for each module: in-depth thematic studies, articles and slides by the lecturer, open access readings, online resources, reference bibliography, etc.

Basic texts:

  1. Psicologia della personalità. Prospettive teoriche, strumenti e contesti applicativi, S. Carver, M. F. Scheier, M. Giampietro, P.Iannello, Pearson Education, 2019 (2nd edition).
  2. Sviluppi Traumatici, G.Liotti and B.Farina, Rafaello Cortina Editore, 2011


In-depth study texts:

  1. La dimensione interpersonale della coscienza, G.Liotti, Carocci, 2005
  2. L’indagine della personalità, M. Armezzani, Carocici, 2007
  3. 16PF-5, R.B. Cattell, A. K. Cattell and H.P. Cattell, Giunti, 2001
  4. L’arco della vita, M. Rutter and M. Rutter, 1995

Access to the final examination is subject to the following 2 e-activities:


  1. E-activity 1: in the light of the possible integration between the different theories, the student is asked to hypothesise and outline a hypothetical personality profile congruent with a specific context (selection, clinical or legal) (an individual paper is required).


  1. E-activity 2: the student is asked to interview 3 different people of their choice, asking them to complete a list of the 10 most significant episodes (in a positive and negative sense) in their lives. They are asked to make an overall comment and a critical reading of the data found in the light of the theoretical material learnt from the course content and from the materials provided by the lecturer during the semester (a paper is required, to be carried out individually or in groups, depending on the student’s preference).

The assessment of learning will take the form of an oral interview on the course contents and on the final report submitted, if any. The grade (min 18, max 30 with possible honours) is determined by the level of performance for each of the following dimensions of the oral interview: mastery of contents, appropriateness of definitions and theoretical references, clarity of argument, command of specialist language.