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The impostor syndrome, sometimes called impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome, is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. It is not an officially recognized psychological disorder, but has been the subject of numerous books and articles by psychologists and educators. The term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978.[1]

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.

The impostor syndrome and gender Edit

The impostor syndrome was once thought to be particularly common among women who are successful in their given careers, but has since been shown to occur for an equal number of men.[citation needed] It is commonly associated with academics and is widely found among graduate students.[2]

Notes Edit

  1. Clance, Pauline Rose (1978). The Impostor Phenomenon Among High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention. Psychotherapy Theory, Research and Practice 15: 241–47.
  2. Laursen, Lucas No, You're Not an Impostor. Science Careers.

References Edit

  • Pauline Clance (1985). The Impostor Phenomenon: Overcoming the Fear That Haunts Your Success, Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers.
  • Joan C. Harvey (April 1985). If I'm So Successful, Why Do I Feel Like a Fake: The Impostor Phenomenon, St. Martin's Press.


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