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Psychology Professor Jessica Borelli Quoted in Media About "Knockout Game"

Assistant Professor of Psychology Jessica Borelli

In a report from CBS St. Louis and AP on the "knockout game," Assistant Professor of Psychology and licensed clinical psychologist Jessica Borelli weighs in on the possible reasoning of the youths who participate in the "game," in which youths attempt to sucker punch strangers to knock them out.

In "Expert: 'Knockout Game' Could Spark 'Mistrust Between Ethnic, Racial Groups,'" Borelli notes that the ages of the attackers is significant because of adolescents' vulnerability to group thinking, the desire to appear cool or tough or to follow group leaders, and teens' impulsivity. "Many teens," the article quotes Borelli as saying, "are looking for the newest thrill, even if that means engaging in bizarre or self-harming behavior. Further, this trend has also garnered media attention, which ironically may make engaging in the knockout game more attractive to teens."

The article notes the idea that the knockout game is a new or spreading trend is debatable, but that media coverage of the game as being racially motivated is damaging. In the quote pulled for the headline of the story, Borelli says "[r]egardless of whether or not these acts are motivated by racial tensions, it is almost inevitable that they will inspire greater mistrust between ethnic and racial groups.... The inter-group mistrust of these attacks may ultimately be the most toxic part of the knockout game."

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