Finding yourself in a book . . . : LUSENET : History & Theory of Psychology : One Thread

Whatever happened to Sheldon's theory of physiognomical determinants of temperament? If it's been 'debunked' would a scientist using this explanation for the behavior of her or himself or others in the 1960s and '70s have been considered a 'quack'?

If a theory or any other text explains to you your own personality (i. e., if you recognize yourself in the autobiography of another or if you recognize your thoughts in the written words of another) could it be that it is more expedient [or another predicate if you'd like] to find yourself in another then to find yourself in yourself? -- the problem with the latter method could be the old 'introspection is retrospection' argument. Have there been any experiments carried out on this question?

-- matt barnes (, March 15, 2001



Is this the article you meant?

TITLE Experimental studies of projection: I. Attribution of traits.

ABSTRACT The concept of projection was submitted to experimental investigation by the use of rating scales. 97 college students, living in three fraternities, were asked to rate themselves and their house-mates on stinginess, obstinacy, disorderliness and bashfulness. Agreement between a person's self-rating and his ratings of others indicated projection. Agreement between self-rating and others' ratings of him indicated insight. Persons lacking in insight showed a positive tendency to attribute their trait characteristics to others. Persons possessing insight showed a slight tendency in the opposite direction, that is, to undervalue their own objectionable traits in others. Lack of insight appeared to be specific for each trait, and it was coupled with a high rating for reprehensibility of that trait. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2000 APA, all rights reserved)

AUTHOR Sears, R. R.

AFFILIATION SOURCE Journal of Social Psychology. 1936 7 151-163

-- Christopher Green (, March 16, 2001.

Hi Matt, I don't know if I have good answers to either, but first I just ran across Sheldon's theory applied by Robert White in Lives in Progress. As I recall White found it came short of describing/explaining the life he was considering, then White went on to put forth a strong (persuaive to me) arguement for taking physical&constituiton factors into consideration when explaining personality and resultant life experiences. First blush you might consider it quack psychology, but physiology type seems to pack some explantion value. Behaviorally, people competive in decathlon, for a decathlon experience there is a very specific body shape.

2nd, in a recent conversation with Dr. Fancher, I said I thought I recognized a situation where someone "identified" with another, and I asked him where I could read about this phenomena. He suggested a topic worth exploration might be empathy, and referred me to The Study of Lives by R. White which is a collection of essays. Check out The Coping Functions of the Ego Mechanisms by T.C. Kroeber. My incomplete understanding is projection is on the other end of the pole to empaty which corresponds to defensive behavior vs. coping behavior. Possibly a partical answer to your question is some where in this. As for experiments in project, I think Robert Sears did a famous experiment on projection in a fraternity house at the University of Iowa that might be in line with this topic? I don't know where to find it. Best, David

-- david clark (, March 15, 2001.

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