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October 14, 2013

Purdue ostracism expert included in 'Reject' documentary

Kipling D. Williams

Kipling D. Williams 
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Kipling D. Williams, a Purdue University professor of psychological sciences, is one of the ostracism experts featured in the documentary "Reject" that will be shown later this month at the 2013 Heartland Film Festival in Indianapolis.

"This film has the potential to educate many people about the harm and dangers of ostracism through poignant interviews with children and their families, as well as scientists," said Williams, who has studied ostracism for 20 years. "Ostracism is the invisible stepchild of bullying. Everyone knows bullying is bad and there are overt behaviors that can be documented. But not talking to somebody at work or excluding classmates from playing is something that is very difficult to document, and so it becomes the weapon of choice for adults and children because it is easier to disguise and get away with."

The independent film, directed and produced by Ruth Thomas-Suh, had its world premiere at the Cleveland International Film Festival in April 2013, where Williams was on the post-screening discussion panel. The film is currently playing at community screenings and festivals, including the Heartland Film Festival on Oct. 19, 22, 23 and 24. Williams also will be available after the Oct. 19 viewing for questions and answers. "Reject" is expected to be widely available in 2014.

Williams will talk about his ostracism research in social psychology as well as his creation, Cyberball, which is used to create and examine the effects of social rejection and ostracism. Cyberball is used in laboratories in the United States and around the world to measure the impact of rejection, its connection to physical pain and aggressive behavior.

The film, which also features experts in education, medicine, neuroscience and juvenile justice, was inspired by the work of Thomas-Suh's father, Dr. Herbert E. Thomas, who wrote the book "The Shame Response to Rejection." His book was based on his 30-years experience as a resident psychiatrist in a maximum-security prison where he observed a clear connection between the experience of rejection and physical pain and how it often led to acts of violence.

"Reject takes an in-depth and solution-based look into the science of social rejection, and features two American families whose children were affected in profoundly different ways." Thomas-Suh said. "It addresses issues that are of serious concern right now to anyone involved with raising children.  Our team hopes the film can contribute to the important national conversation on emotional health and violence." 

Thomas-Suh also has partnered with Williams and Purdue Extension to develop a program called "All In, Developing Inclusive Relationships." More information about this program will be available this fall.

The schedule and ticket information for "Reject" at Heartland Film Festival is available at http://bit.ly/1eb7Lcr 

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

Sources: Kipling Williams, 765-494-0845, kipw@purdue.edu  

Ruth Thomas-Suh, info@rejectfilm.com 

Related websites:

College of Health and Human Sciences

Department of Psychological Sciences