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The Phenomenon of Impostor Syndrome

two kids near the colorful wall. The phenomenon of impostor syndrome. Mindletic blog

In recent years, people who seek psychological consulting have increasingly been reporting a strong feeling of impostor syndrome. They attribute this to seemingly undeserved career achievements, and a fear that their incompetence will be exposed, regardless of evidence of their skills and accomplishments. This psychological phenomenon is widely prevalent across populations of different genders, ages, races, and cultures and is known as impostor syndrome.

Individuals with impostor syndrome often attribute their accomplishments not to their skills or abilities but to chance or interpersonal relationships. Such individuals feel insecure and uncertain, often lack self-confidence, and self-sabotage themselves. In the long run, they are more prone to depression, anxiety, emotional exhaustion, burnout, and interpersonal conflicts than individuals who do not experience this phenomenon.Impostor syndrome is more commonly observed in individuals with lower self-discipline, who perceive their real competencies as being belittled or minimized. This reminds us of stories of top-performing students, scientists, and individuals in other fields who doubt their own achievements.

Studies have found that the impostor syndrome significantly correlates with personality traits, such as low conscientiousness, expressed neuroticism, and perfectionism. Some cases of feeling intellectually uncertain are associated with compensating for a lack of self-respect due to self-discipline deficiency. Perfectionism and impostor syndrome are united by the desire to be perfect, as it is believed that one’s skills and competencies can garner the admiration of others, earn respect, or at least avoid unfavorable judgment. However, the high standards that the perfectionist sets for oneself are limitless, leading to feelings of internal inadequacy, error, and disappointment, which are usually hidden because they are perceived as signs of unmet standards and imperfection. The experience of impostor syndrome is almost the same for individuals who also exhibit perfectionism, except for very subtle nuances, such as the inability to rejoice in success or experience recognition due to unfulfilled expectations.

The phenomenon of impostor syndrome decreases when:

  • We learn to accept ourselves as we are;
  • We focus on self-knowledge, seeking and highlighting our strengths and achievements;
  • We learn to accept that nobody is perfect, and everyone makes mistakes;
  • We surround ourselves with supportive people who can provide constructive feedback and help us develop realistic goals.

By addressing the underlying causes of impostor syndrome and working on strategies to manage it, individuals can overcome the negative impact of this phenomenon on their lives and thrive both personally and professionally.


Grubb, W. L. (2021). Perfectionism and the Imposter Phenomenon. Journal of Organizational Psychology, 21(6), 25-42.

Yao D. (2021). Depth and persistence: what researchers need to know about impostor syndrome. Understanding impostor syndrome’s complexity and its effect on research persistence. COMMUNICATIONS OF THE ACM 64(8), 39-42.

Naijean S. Bernard, Stephen J. Dollinger, Nerella V. Ramaniah. Applying the Big Five Personality factors to the impostor phenomenon. Journal of personality assessment, 78(2), 321–333.

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