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May 2, 2007

Prof to talk about exclusion at Chicago conference

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - As the recent tragedy at Virginia Tech underscores, the seeds of tragedy often are sown when a person feels isolated, says a Purdue University expert who will be presenting his research on ostracism May 4 in Chicago.

Kipling Williams, a professor of psychological sciences, will talk about ostracism at the annual Midwestern Psychological Association meeting at 3 p.m. on May 4 in the Monroe Room, in the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe St., Chicago.

"Ostracism, or giving someone the cold shoulder or silent treatment, causes a tremendous amount of physical and emotional harm, and it is a powerful tool that we encounter daily," Williams says. "Exclusion can happen anywhere - the water cooler at work, in online chat rooms, among friends, within families, and it is even used as a way to discipline children."

When a person is ostracized for even a brief period of time, the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects pain, is activated, Williams says.

"Ostracism is one of the most widely used forms of social punishment, and some see it as more humane than corporal punishment, as when used in a time-out, but there is a deeper psychological impact that needs to be taken seriously," he says. "We know that when people are ostracized, it can affect their perceptions, physiological conditions, attitude and behavior - all of which sometimes can lead to aggression."

Williams, president of the Midwestern Psychological Association, co-edited the book "The Social Outcast: Ostracism, Social Exclusion, Rejection and Bullying."

Writer: Amy Patterson Neubert, (765) 494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Source: Kipling Williams, (765) 418-1652, kip@purdue.edu

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

Note to Journalists: Media interested in talking to Kipling Williams before or after his talk can contact him at (765) 418-1652. Media are invited to attend Williams's session as well as any other. The Midwestern Psychological Association meeting is May 3-5 at the Palmer House Hilton, 17 E. Monroe S., Chicago. Other topics to be discussed at the conference include self-esteem, terrorism, partisanship, discrimination, prayer and health.

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