I am a graduate student at Northern Arizona University studying Psychological Sciences.
Growing up, my psychologist mother taught me about projection and how we often see things in others that we don't want to acknowledge in ourselves. I found this very interesting, but was dissatisfied with the psychological resources I found on the subject. In Tibetan Buddhism I found some detailed teachings about how our thoughts and actions affect our projections of others(p. 77). The general idea being: if you are good to others, you will project goodness onto them.
While I studied these Buddhist teachings on projection, I also investigated their efficacy in psychological research. The positive psychological movement has found many benefits of being kind to others (Hamilton, 2017). However, I noticed that none of the studies I found investigated the effects of kindness on interpersonal "perception."
As I was studying these subjects, I also spent six years working with young adults in therapeutic populations. I was surprised to find that in spite of the extensive research on the benefits of kindness, there wasn't much therapeutic focus on why and how to be kind. And I felt that if there were a more systematized understanding of how our actions (particularly kindness in its many forms) affect our "perception" and relationships, it would be easier for direct care workers to encourage their clients toward prosocial behavior.
Therefore, I applied to graduate school and proposed my masters thesis to investigate the potential effects of empathy and generosity on impressions of an individual other.