Prejudices are a funny thing; they can make those who have them delude themselves into believing they know strangers better than the strangers know themselves. Therefore, you sometimes see people in fiction ascribing certain qualities to other people, without having any grounds for doing so. Sometimes, they will even get angry or disappointed if the target does not or cannot live up to their baseless assumptions. If it's a {{Tsundere}} that held the image, expect her to hold the guy up to the standards anyway and yell at him if he falls out of line with her perceptions.

Related to InLoveWithLove, LovingAShadow, and ReplacementGoldfish. When a writer uses this unintentionally to [[ShowDontTell describe their characters]], it becomes an InformedAbility instead.

This is, of course, very much TruthInTelevision.

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!!Examples:

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[[folder: Anime & Manga ]]


* In ''LuckyStar'', Konata assumes a large foreigner is a violent kidnapper.
* In the ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'' manga, Mei Chan hears about the eponymous Fullmetal Alchemist from various people, and forms a mental image of a ''tall'', ''gentle-manly'' ''prince''... and is horrified to find the short, rude reality. She later forms a similar image of Al's real body, after Alphonse, offended that she would think him similar to his brother, provides an exaggerated opinion of his own traits.
* ''Lightnovel/FullmetalPanic''
** Kurtz Webber, who sees Kaname Chidori's picture, and then upon seeing the real thing assumes she must be an angel. That is, until Kaname chews her friend out for a horrible blind date and begins loudly yelling, causing Kurtz to become very disappointed.
** Gauron thinks Sousuke is a [[InLoveWithYourCarnage beautiful angel of death]]. Subverted in that Gauron was right to an extent, which Sousuke himself acknowledges later in the novels.
--->''''Sousuke:''' The only difference between him and me, is what is being enjoyed and what is not being enjoyed.
** Leonard Testarosa is definitely projecting ''a lot'' on Kaname, including forcing her to witness his traumatic memories, and drawing not-always-correct parallels between their lives. And he gets very pissed off when she finally makes it clear that she doesn't agree.
** Leo attempts something similar with his sister Tessa, but she knows him too well for it to work half as well.
* ''{{Kannagi}}'' has several moments like this where the main character, Kannagi, will often berate Jin for not being her stereotypical vision of a loyal vassal who doesn't think for himself, just as the goddess expects of him. This often leads to powerful arguments between the two.
* ''KirbyOfTheStars'' has Fumu assume when this legendary Star Warrior Kirby steps out from his containment pod that it will be a tall prince with a slender demeanor and sword, only for it to reveal it is actually a pink puffball that can't even speak. This literally shatters her mental image.
* In ''{{Kurohime}}'', the main character Zero has fallen in love with a powerful witch that saved him as a child, but as he grows older everyone tells him that the woman he fell for was an evil $^#%@, the problem is Zero refuses to listen. When Zero finally does meet Kurohime, she turns out to be a selfish brat who thinks men are toys and will use men to get whatever she wants and take over the world, going so far as even branding men with the kanji for "Dog" on their back. [[spoiler: About a third of the way in the manga, though, she gets a lot better and actually falls for Zero]].
** Although we learn that the bratty Kurohime [[spoiler: is only a part of the original one (a part without love and compassion at that) and any evil she did before the split [[WellIntentionedExtremist wasn't out of malice ]][[RageAgainstTheHeavens (well, not against humans)]]]]

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[[folder: Comic Book ]]

* [[PsychoPsychologist Hugo Strange]] believes that Franchise/{{Batman}} is living out a power fantasy since he's projecting his own lust for power on the hero. [[Comicbook/GrantMorrisonsBatman The Black Glove]] make a similar mistake, believing that Bruce is just playing a twisted game like they are. Both of them believe they know Batman better than he knows himself and both are off the mark. Some interpretations of TheJoker have him projecting his own nihilism on the entire human race.

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[[folder: Live Action Television ]]


* ''Series/{{MADtv}}'' had a sketch called ''The Average Asian'', in which a completely ordinary fellow of stereotypically East Asian phenotype is expected to live up to all kinds of stereotypes. Eventually, one of them turns out to be true: he actually ''can'' summon a horde of ninjas to do his bidding, and he unleashes them to take revenge in one sketch when he finally has had enough of all the racist assumptions people make about him.
* In one episode of ''Series/LawAndOrderSpecialVictimsUnit'', Stabler admitted at the end that he failed to realize that a young woman was the killer because he saw her as a victim, not a person.

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[[folder: Theatre ]]


* In ''Theatre/TheImportanceOfBeingEarnest'', the love interest Cecily imagines her guardian's rogue brother (not really his brother at all, but simply a friend masquerading as his brother, [[spoiler: who does not realize that [[LukeIAmYourFather he is, in fact, his brother]]]]) as a bad boy from the stories she is told. When they actually meet, she says that she is already in love with him, and says yes to his marriage proposal that came during their introductory conversation.

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[[folder: Web Comics ]]


* ''Webcomic/{{Megatokyo}}''
** Yuki finds Piro's sketchbook, creates a fantasy about what he must be like, and then gets hostile when he fails to live up to it.
** Kimiko receives a railcard from Piro, creates a fantasy about what he must be like, and then gets hostile when he fails to live up to it.
** Erika receives unrequested assistance from Largo, creates a fantasy about what he must be like, and then gets hostile when he appears to live up to it.
* In ''Webcomic/PennyAndAggie'', one unfortunate guy causes ''every'' girl who sees him to project their idea of a perfect guy on him. This inevitably leads to disappointment on both ends.

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[[folder: Real Life]]

* Studies have shown that sexual predators believe that '''everyone''' (at least, every man) is a sexual predator, some just hide it better.
* The "I'm saying what you're all thinking" excuse for offensive remarks is predicated on the notion that everyone is as much of a bigot as the person making the remarks.

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