Do you believe that "life is a projective test"?

@TheHorse (201797)
Walnut Creek, California
February 8, 2024 1:59pm CST
One of my best mentors in my post-graduate program at UCSB had me help him build his house in the Santa Ynez Mountains just North of Santa Barbara. While we were working away, we would discuss psychology, statistics, music, culture, and other things. One of the things he said to me that has stuck with me ever since was: "Life is a projective test." We project onto the world around us, and especially onto other people, what we truly feel about (or in some instances are afraid of in) ourselves. I know what you're thinking (or maybe not ): This is Freud 101. After denial, projection is one of the most basic defense mechanisms. In a psych text book I use for a really basic Intro to Psychology class, the author says: "One of the best ways to find out what a person is really like is to see how s/he describes others." It's interesting to me that this applies to both positive and negative attributes. My friends who describe others as "a really good person" tend to be really good people. People I know who describe others as "cheap" tend to be cheap. And so on. Do you think that life is (at least often) a "projective test"?
9 people like this
8 responses
@wolfgirl569 (91816)
• Marion, Ohio
8 Feb
I never thought about it but that would work.
2 people like this
@wolfgirl569 (91816)
• Marion, Ohio
9 Feb
@TheHorse I have a cousin who finds fault with everyone. And she is one of the most negative people I know. So it does seem to fit. I try not to be around her much.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
10 Feb
@wolfgirl569 Do you notice that some of the things she claims about others actually describe herself?
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@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
9 Feb
It's interesting to sit back and see how people describe others.
2 people like this
@kaylachan (54393)
• Daytona Beach, Florida
8 Feb
When put that way, I guess it does make sense. I never thought much about it.
2 people like this
@kaylachan (54393)
• Daytona Beach, Florida
8 Feb
@TheHorse That's one way to look at it. I suppose you could learn about someone that way. George used to find out a lot of things, by acting dumb but listening and observing.
2 people like this
@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
9 Feb
@kaylachan I do the same thing. How is he doing?
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@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
8 Feb
I do quietly listen to who people describe others when I want to learn what they are like.
2 people like this
@LadyDuck (451544)
• Switzerland
9 Feb
I never thought about that as a "projective test", but listening how people describe others is interesting.
1 person likes this
@LadyDuck (451544)
• Switzerland
10 Feb
@TheHorse - I am thinking to my mother.... NO she did not describe others as she saw herself and I can say the same for my husband and my brother. I cannot judge about myself.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Feb
@LadyDuck "Projection" is discussed in the news in the US a lot, for obvious reasons. I wonder if more "lay persons" will use it in day-to-day speech.
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@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
10 Feb
It's just a psychology term that summarizes "describing others as you see yourself."
1 person likes this
@RasmaSandra (71584)
• Daytona Beach, Florida
8 Feb
That does make sense, I guess it is true,
2 people like this
@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
9 Feb
Heh. Don't guess! Be silent at gatherings and see if you can support or refute such a hypothesis.
2 people like this
@JudyEv (321739)
• Rockingham, Australia
9 Feb
Isn't that interesting? I've never thought about it but that's quite true - about good people seeing others as good, etc.
2 people like this
@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
9 Feb
It's an interesting one of me, as Freud thought of defense mechanisms as being used because of anxiety about our own "inadequacies." But if we project good things onto others, then perhaps a less "psychodynamic" explanation suffices.
2 people like this
@porwest (76284)
• United States
8 Feb
That is quite deep, sir. lol. But in a way it fits in many ways to many things I have thought or felt. When it ever came to bullies, I tended to feel that the source of their bullying were their own personal insecurities. There are too many examples that could fit this idea and so essentially, I think it is potentially more true than not. At the same time, I do also think it doesn't fit all scenarios. For example, if I call someone stupid, I am not projecting my own stupidity. I am merely pointing out THEIR stupidity. lol There IS a difference. Sometimes things are more observation than projection from my experience.
2 people like this
@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
8 Feb
I don't call people stupid. Even if they don't know things that are common knowledge to my peers, it could simply mean they had different experiences from mine/ours. Someone who doesn't know the second thing about psychology/literature/politics/physics might be brilliant when it comes to auto mechanics/music theory/bass technique, etc.
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@porwest (76284)
• United States
9 Feb
@TheHorse I never call someone who doesn't know something stupid. I call people who have the inability to learn or an unwillingness to understand something stupid. Big difference.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Feb
@porwest I don't necessarily think of it as stupid. Some people may be rigid in their thinking, or unwilling to learn new things, as a defense. I feel "safe" discussing music or even physics. But I might feel "overwhelmed" (or just clueless) is I wound up in a discussion abut 12th Century African history.
1 person likes this
@Fleura (28630)
• United Kingdom
9 Feb
Not sure if I completely believe that but I will pay more attention and see.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Feb
Let us know what you discover.
1 person likes this
@LindaOHio (149435)
• United States
9 Feb
But what about those people I worked with that only pretended to like me (I was their manager)? I can only describe them as two-faced and not my friends as I once thought. Does that make me two-faced? Cute picture.
1 person likes this
@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
12 Feb
In my "forgiving" brain I just see them as practical. People like to keep their jobs.
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@LindaOHio (149435)
• United States
13 Feb
@TheHorse That's one way of looking at it I guess.
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@TheHorse (201797)
• Walnut Creek, California
13 Feb
@LindaOHio I am pretty easy to work for, I think.
1 person likes this