Meet the Speaker: Sara Valencia Botto

We recently asked Sara a few questions so you can get to know one of our CTRL + ALT + DEL speakers.  Check it out…

 What is your passion?

I have two passions: the first is that I am passionate about helping children. Whether that is through education, service, or just loving the children in my life the best way I can, my calling is to improve children’s lives. My second passion is to empower others through knowledge. Although a cliché, I truly believe that knowledge is power, and in light of my career, the more we can understand about ourselves, the better we can make decisions. I think that sharing knowledge about human psychology can really enhance the way people think.

 How did you decide to pursue your current career?

 My freshman year in college, I learned about the Fundamental Attribution Error in my Introduction to Psychology class.  This phenomenon describes the human tendency to ascribe internal characteristics to a person based on their behavior while ignoring the context. For example, if someone were to cut us off in traffic, we tend to assume that the person is a jerk (i.e., characteristic), instead of considering external factors that might have contributed to such behavior (i.e., the person is late for their child’s recital). Learning about this simple phenomenon not only taught me the cognitive processes that affected my day-to-day social interactions, but it consequently changed the way I interacted with people. This highlighted the importance of understanding all of the factors that affect human behavior. Eight years later, and I am still fascinated by the topic!

 What did you learn about yourself during the process of preparing your talk?  

 Ironically, it made me realize how much I care about what people think! I am used to giving research talks often because of the nature of my career, but knowing that my talk would be on the internet was intimidating. It reminded me that caring what other people think has an enormous influence on our beliefs, emotions and behavior- for better or for worse.

 What drives you in challenging times?

 My faith is a big part of my life. I believe that my purpose is to love God and love people to the best of my ability. When things go wrong, I remind myself that as long as I am doing my best to do both of those things, everything else will work out.