I'm currently a junior studying Sociology with the intent to go to graduate school for Social Work. I have a lemon tree, like to go paragliding, play video games, sleep in weird places on campus and eat broccoli.....<- and one of those is a lie :)

Homepage: http://lifeaccordingtokim.wordpress.com

Your memory is false_Kim Alvarado

The misinformation effect refers the effect that false information has on recalling a memory.

In this video a man is sent to jail for 20+ years based on the memory of his daughter who “recovered” her memory under the guidance of a hypnotist.  This is an extreme  example of the negative aspect of misinformation but the strength and durability of  incorrect memories is evident. It can be extremely disconcerting to think that our memory is false. What keeps our memories from becoming misinformed is to keep factual records like a video, audio or just writing it down in a journal. Another thing that we can do is measure the validity of our memory  is to compare our memories with someone else…..like a mom, cause they remember EVERYTHING! 🙂


Leave a comment

Shiz Kim Alvarado says

When I think of social comparison I think immediately of  this video:

This spawned more videos like Sh*t that blacks/whites/mormons/gays/mexicans/asians say, all of which focus on distinct groups of people and their behavior. Although these videos are done in a way that accentuates stereotypical opinions they also provide a means in which individuals can evaluate themselves by. If someone were to ask me if I considered myself a typical Mormon girl I wouldn’t even pause from my game of Halo Reach to tell them, “heck no.”  And then I watch this video:

After watching this video I compared my own opinions and colloquialisms to those demonstrated and found that if I reevaluated myself, I DO fall into the category of a “Mormon girl”. I don’t however, find it a stifling or constraining title.  Through social comparisons we can check our behavior with others in our social group to feel like we belong and yet  still cultivate and express our distinct individual self.

1 Comment

Saved by a kiss_Kim Alvardo

The Similarity-Attraction Hypothesis is used to explain why people become attracted to each other. It basically says that the more similar people are the more that they are attracted to each other. This can extend beyond just physical attributes or socioeconomic status,  people can be drawn together based on other factors like similar life experiences.

This video is in Mandarin so please read the video description first (I made some edits to make the translation into English more fluent) :

On Jun 20th, 2011, a 16 years old boy wanted to kill himself on the bridge in Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, China. A brave young lady used her kiss and passion to conquer the suicide’s idea, and save his life with other firemen.
According to the report, the boy had lost his mother when he was a child and his step-mother cheated his father of all of his money. He felt lonely and helpless. He never had love from his family.
The heroic young lady is a hotel steward. She said that  although she didn’t know the suicide she had the same difficult situations and even wanted to suicide several times. When she talked with the boy, she cried, because she totally understood him. She thought that the only approach was love. Finally, she succeed by a kiss!

As demonstrated in this video because the girl  had a similar experience of wanting to commit suicide at some point in her own life she had empathy for the boy’s feelings and felt a  deep connection to him and  because of all this she was able to save him with a kiss.

Leave a comment

Altruism_Kim Alvarado

Altruism is a selfless act done out of concern for others.

In this video runner  Meghan Vogel helped carry another runner who collapsed only a small distance from the finish line during a 3200 meter race at  Ohio Division III state track . She even helped the other runner so that she, and not Vogel,  would cross the finish line first. Although helping another runner is cause for disqualification the officials allowed the girls to be ranked as #14 and #15. Although Vogel won a state title earlier in the day she said that,  “Helping her across the finish line was a lot more satisfying than winning the state championship,”

A lot of people would argue that true altruism is not possible and that those who commit “selfless” acts actually do it for some sort of obligation or duty or in anticipation for a reward.  In this situation however, Vogel’s actions would’ve led to a disciplinary action, being disqualified, and not a reward. That being the case I believe that this video demonstrates what a true altruistic action looks like.

Leave a comment

Norm Violation: Puppetry is a lost art (Kim Alvarado)

For my social norm violation I had a lot of ideas: wearing blooded and torn clothes and asking people if they’ve seen my pet Velociraptor, using the boys restroom, etc.

However, I wanted to violate a norm in a way which was very subtle and not so over the top. So I decided to bring two of the Harry Potter Puppet pals on campus with me!

(If you don’t know what a “Harry Potter Puppet Pal” is then watch this video)

My goal was to act as casual as possible, like it was no big deal that I had a puppet on my hand. I figured that if I acted like nothing was out of place then other people would do that as well.

I brought them to class with me and then afterwards I walked around on campus asking people, “Will you take a picture of us?”  This was really funny because EVERY TIME that I asked that, the person would say ,”Sure.” and then look around for other people. Then they would look at the puppet on my hand and then look at me with a really confused look on their face.

At first I felt really self-conscious and had my sunglasses on and ear buds in. After a while I relaxed and just didn’t care anymore and I took off my sunglasses and ear buds and just walked around smiling. I find that there was a sense of freedom in not caring what strangers thought. Carrying a toy around made me really miss when I was a child and I would make a doll from a bunch of grass or a grenade from a seed pod and played freely (with sound effects) in public. When a full grown adult is doing this kind of behavior it isn’t a huge norm violation or elicits a big response but it still  catches people off guard because adults are supposed to be more mature and self-censoring.

In class I took out my puppets and set them on my desk

To attract the attention of my professor I turned the puppets towards him. At one point I picked both of them up and started playing with them, I even silently reenacted the last battle scene between Harry and Voldemort. He looked over a couple of times but didn’t say anything, same with my classmates. When they tried to catch my eye I pointedly looked at the board and ignored them as if I didn’t notice they were looking so nobody said anything.

I woke up a girl who was sleeping and asked her to take a picture of us. She said sure and then looked around for another person. When she saw that I meant Harry she laughed and took the picture.

Because she was being a good sport, I asked her to take another one with Voldemort in it.

In the Harold B Lee library:
Me: “Can you take a picture of us ?”
Cute guy: “Who’s “us”?”
Me: “Me and my puppet pal!”
Cute guy: O_0  (takes picture)

JAMBA JUICE!!!! The girl I asked turned in a complete circle looking for other people when I asked her to take a picture of “us”

I sat down near this lady in the cafeteria until she noticed me and I asked her to take a picture.  “I’m not crazy I promise,” I said when she gave the camera back. She didn’t seem very convinced…. so I stayed there until she finished her food,  playing with the puppets and even holding the straw up to the puppets mouths so that they could drink.

Giving Harry a piggyback ride. The girl who took this one thought I only wanted a picture of myself until she noticed the puppet.

The guy who took this picture was awesome! He recognized the puppet from the video and was more than happy to take a picture.

Smile and wave boys, smile and wave..

The girl I asked said, “Well, this is weird….but it’s made my day interesting!”

Home at last!! Awwww…Voldy and Harry are holding hands!


(╯°□°)╯ ┻━┻ _ opɐɹɐʌlɐ ɯıʞ

Aggression is a natural reaction to environmental factors which can be categorized by instinct, frustration-aggression, social and biological influences.  Uncontrolled aggression leads to wars, crime and even road rage so it is important not only to understand what causes aggression but how to reduce aggressive behavior at the individual level. But reducing agression is not about never being angry or upset because these are healthy and normal emotions. In reducing anger you can gain control of your actions by controlling your reactions.

(Wow, get her mad enough and we have an album!)

There are different theories of how to reduce aggression, the more popular of which is the Cartharisis hypothesis which suggests that pent-up emotions like anger and frustrations can be purged by  expressing them through aggression. This has since been shown to promote aggression rather than counteract it.  The video above demonstrates one of the methods in which agression can be reduced which is to react to aggression with something that is incompatable or incongruent (like humming).  Another way is to reduce aggression is to avoid situations or things that make you angre and  to reward non aggression in order to model behavior.

Here are examples of the different theroies:

1.Catharsis Hypothesis

2.Channel aggression by participating in another activity (my alternate to the Catharsis Hypothesis)


3. Reduce aversive stimulation (by leaving the situation)

4. Reward nonaggression

*with grape juice!




1 Comment

Haters gonna hate_Kim Alvarado

Prejudiced, stereotypes and discrimination are preconceived attitudes, negative or positive, about a person or thing based on surface details like their ethnicity, religion or other categories and not on their merit as an individual.

Now, take a gander at this sweet video with its fresh lyrics:

Not only does this video give some street cred to minivans but also it addresses and breaks prejudices on  parenting and gender roles. The father says that he “loves hanging with his daughter, sipping tea” keeping his pinky up without being emasculated and his wife not only “straight ownin’ bake sales, with [her] cupcake skills” but also says “I’m better with the money so I handle the bills” Both of these lyrics differ from the stereotypical views on parenting; here it is demonstrated that both parents can nurture the children and  also take on different roles based on their own personality and abilities.

Prejudiced and stereotypes are static concepts that can be strengthened or weakened over time. This is how that change occurs: 1)You have a preconceived judgment on “something” , 2) you receive information how that “something” behaves or feel firsthand, and 3) if you find that the “something” conforms to the stereotype then you don’t change your opinion but if the other side doesn’t conform then your opinion will change naturally to accommodate it.

Here is a simplified example of this:

1.How you view people who drive minivans:


2. Then you watched the “Swagger Wagon” clip
3. How you view minivans afterwards:
So basically, judging something or someone at first glance is good only for constructing a preliminary opinion based on  surface details  but is ineffective at evaluating  their own personal swagger.


STOP THE CHAIRS!! _Kim Alvarado

When you think of group think, one can’t help but conjure up visions of zombied out, snuggie wearing space cadets who are just dying to drink the KoolAid. (<-see what I did there?) But let us explore the more humorous side of mob mentality…

(This clip does contain one utterance of the S word and one taking of the Lord’s name in vain, you can mute it or enjoy the synopsis below the link.)



1. Here is someone in the crowd of this WWE-esque match:

*Le average wrestling fan
2. One of the wrestlers yells to the crowd, “Give me a chair!
*fan is happy to oblige
3. Someone in the audience throws one chair….then another is thrown.. and another, and another…
  * herrr durr, this is fun!


4. And then THIS happens:



And in a space of 40 secs, the stage was piled high with metal chairs, and one garbage can, and a trapped wrestler underneath.


Groupthink is  the conformity of thought and action either by self-deception or forced manufacture of consent. Group think is a way for individuals to avoid accountability when something goes wrong. In the case this  WWE chair incident, no one individual can be pointed out as being the sole instigator and perpetrator. In fact, at the end of the video posted above (44 secs) there is a boy in a green shirt who grabs a chair, looks around and sees that no one else is throwing chairs anymore so he sets it down and wanders off.

In a committee setting people experience group think when they don’t consider alternative suggestions presented by the minority or lesser ranked people and instead desire unanimity at the expense of quality decisions. The problems created are: exercising of coercive pressure on others, rationalization of poor decisions  (I can only imagine that’s how the IPAD got its name), having an illusion of invulnerability and not expressing true feelings or concerns.  Steps can be taken to guard against this conflict to conform and assimilate by having a larger group, impartial leaders, a hippie non-conformist on the board to question everything and using outside experts.

Groupthink may limit accountability but that doesn’t mean that every form of conformity is inherently bad because it’s normal to want to fit in. It’s about balance. Remember: It’s only the last one to throw the chair that gets in trouble.


Conformity- Kim Alvarado


Conformity is a type of social influence involving a change in belief or behavior in order to fit in with a group.  This can happen in response to real (ie. physical threatening) or imagined (ie. norms) pressure.


People conform in order to fit in with the collective consciousness and to better adapt and excel in their social environment. It has evolutionary and biological roots from the time where humans had to stick together, united by mechanic solidarity, in order to survive.  Conformity to the norms of a group gives us identity as well as a support system. This only becomes a bad thing if all of our “self” is investigated in only one group because it will lessen the possibility of a person becoming so personally entrenched and invested in one group that when a  mob mentality develops they find themselves flipping over an ice cream truck because they didn’t have Drumsticks.

1 Comment

Gender bending- Kim Alvarado

Gender roles are the set of expected behavior ascribed to males and females within their culture. When it comes to deciding whether gender is culturally constructed or just a reflection of natural behavior, there is no definite answer.


In the clip above the group of men give a convincing portrayal of women by expounding on stereotypes of how women behave in everyday life and in relationships, however, some of the attributes expressed could also exist in some men and well as not  exist in some women. For example, the phrase “metro sexual” can be used as a sub-category of masculinity to describe a man who has “feminine” qualities yet is not considered gay or unmanly.

In this way we can understand how variation can exist in gender roles that doesn’t eliminate the gender categories, it creates sub-categories that are a better fit to an individual personality and lifestyle. In this way “gender bending” or bending culturally constructed gender roles is conducive to a healthy society because it makes allowances for people who differ from the norm. (I say this without even thinking of homosexuals or other behavior that is seen as extreme, as there is plenty of variability in how normal heterosexual individuals express their gender roles.) In order to truly understand gendered roles and behaviors as it relates to an individual we can define behavior and roles as being gender specific but not gender exclusive.


Leave a comment

Cognitive dissonance: To love is to suffer? -Kim Alvarado

       Cognitive dissonance  is what occurs when behavior is inconsistent with attitudes, the anxiety this conflict  causes is only reduced through rationalization.

Here is an example:

Here are the ways to reduce dissonance that she used in the clip:

1. Change attitude in line of behavior

“To love is to suffer.”

2.Change behavior in line of attitude

“”To avoid suffering, one must not love”

3. Minimize importance

” To love is to suffer; not to love is to suffer; to suffer is to suffer.”

4.  Acquire new info

“To be happy is to love. To be happy, then, is to suffer, but suffering makes one unhappy”

5. Change cognition about behavior

 “Therefore, to be happy, one must love or love to suffer or suffer from too much happiness.

She is able to rationalize all of her contrasting ideas of love, happiness and suffering by altering her existing paradigms and putting them all together to create a consistent belief system in which the dissonance between her ideas is reduced.

Leave a comment

Attribution- Kim Alvarado

How do we find the meaning behind the behavior of others or our own? Attributions are made everyday, sometimes without our knowledge, as we attempt to understand the cognitive processes that goes behind the behaviors of others.

Here are some examples of the different kinds of attributions that are made:

Fundamental Attribution Error


Here the blame is put on fellow commuters and not on the situation (rush hour).

Actor-Observer Bias

Ex: “The only reason I failed the test was because I had a death in the family..  However, my friend failed the test because she’s not very bright.

Here the individual explains their own behavior as being caused by the situation while explaining the behavior of others on their personality traits.

Self-Serving Bias


We attribute our successes to ourselves while our  failures happen beyond our control.

The purpose of attribution is to make our social world more predictable.  As humans we want to explain the ” how”, “what”, “when” etc. of our human experience. When we find that explanation in regards to the behavior of others it is one of two different types; external attribution and internal attribution.  In the examples given above we can see that it is more common for us to blame our behavior on external forces, like the situation or another person, rather than a failing on our part.

This is the flowchart of attribution:

An event happens where I was negatively affected by the actions of another -> I provide an attribution or an explanation for their behavior (fundamental attribution, Actor-Observer, or Self- Serving) ->my behavior from there depends on the type of attribution I perceive it as.  The reasoning is that  if we can predict the reasoning for other people’s  behavior we can then influence their future behavior, right?

1 Comment

Protecting our “self”- Kim Alvarado

How do you maintain your self esteem? Whether it done through self evaluation or the validations of others, anyone’s self esteem will suffer, especially in the face of competition and there are specific strategies we use to protect our self image.


As the picture shows, in the face of competition our self-esteem is at risk. In order to defend against a blow to the ego it is common for people to exhibit several different behaviors, sometimes not even conscious that they are doing it. The self-serving bias is where an individual who feels their ego threatened will justify their current failings as being something that is not in their control but if something GOOD happens that same person would then justify that they and only they were the cause of that success. Often in the face of challenges, an individual might self-handicap themselves before they attempt the challenge. A girl might invite a boy to a friendly game of Halo and slightly apprehensive of a “pwning” the boy would say something like, “I haven’t played in a real long while” so that even if he plays like a total noob he has an excuse and his ego is protected. Then there is the hanger ons, the groupies, the same kind of people who would show up to your door just as the cookies are coming out of the oven saying with a feigned nonchalance attitude, “So are those the cookies that you made with my roommates sugar that I let you borrow?” These same kind of people will associate themselves as being part of a success that they really weren’t a part of. They didn’t make the cookies, they really expended nothing of themselves and yet they want the glory, their own piece of the pie….the cookie pie. These defensive tactics are not necessarily evil but are often practiced in the hopes of ‘saving face’ and maintaining self-esteem when it butts heads with the self-esteem of another.

Leave a comment

Hindsight Bias by Kim Alvarado

Let’s talk about hindsight.


No, not  that  kind of hind sight but rather a phenomenon known as hindsight bias.

What the hindsight bias demonstrates is the tendency to overestimate your ability to predict the outcome of an event after you already know the conclusion and saw some of the forces that brought it about. “Common sense” is a product of the hindsight bias where assumptions are made that reflect an I-knew-it -all-along attitude. This kind of bias can be seen in everyday life where the outcome can seem like common sense once the result is known.

Examples range from the reactions of fans after a game, where they might say something like, “I knew from the first inning that Rodriguez was off his game, it’s no wonder we lost.”

Another example of hindsight bias is parodied by Natalie Tran in her Vlog (watch until 1:15):

Although it seems to skew our perception of reality, hindsight bias is an important factor of human nature. As the video shows,  people can come to very different conclusions from the very same event. For example, there are many common saying or phrases that seem to conclude two very different things as being'”common sense’; the phrases ‘birds of a feather flock together’ and ‘opposites attract’ is an example of this. What hindsight bias demonstrates is that we can’t trust in something that is ‘common sense’ as necessarily being the truth; common sense needs to be replaced with real empirical knowledge. The desire to predict outcomes based on the events of everyday life is what creates the need for both the social and physical sciences. However, seeing something as being correct in hindsight can be a faulty framework to structure our knowledge of our world around. By identifying bias in studies and studying it separatel, the field of social psychology can better critically study  human nature and more clearly understand why we do/think/feel the way we do.

Leave a comment