The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. The term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978.
Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
The impostor syndrome, in which competent people find it impossible to believe in their own competence, can be viewed as complementary to the Dunning–Kruger effect, in which incompetent people find it impossible to believe in their own incompetence.
Feel like you might suffer from Impostor Syndrome? Take this test to see! Here are a few example questions. All of the questions are rated on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being “not at all true” and 5 being “very true.”
- I have often succeeded on a test or task even though I was afraid that I would not do well before I undertook the task.
- I can give the impression that I’m more competent than I really am.
- When people praise me for something I’ve accomplished, I’m afraid I won’t be able to live up to their expectations of me in the future.
- I rarely do a project or task as well as I’d like to do it.
- It’s hard for me to accept compliments or praise about my intelligence or accomplishments.
Holy Moly…there’s a name for this? I mean, I thought it might’ve just been low self-esteem (which I do think has a contributing factor) or paranoia or something, but to have such a specific label is a bit…frightening and relieving in a way that shows that the experience is not just happening with you and that people have actually paid enough attention to it to at least identify it and work with it. I wonder what the cause is, but knowing life, it’s probably a mix of bio-social-cognitive reasons. Why is psychology so fascinating?
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