Sun. May 29th, 2022


Competence does not guarantee trust. Albert Einstein once expressed dismay at the “exaggerated esteem” that won his life’s work. The feeling that one’s abilities are overestimated by others was referred to in 1978 as “imposter syndrome”. It is blamed for mental health problems as well as preventing many people, including women and minority groups, from reaching their potential.

But self-doubt can bring unexpected benefits. Apprentice doctors suffering from cheat syndrome have a better bed way. Among self-assured employees of a US investment advisory firm, it is better to help people, work together and encourage others. These findings come from a recent study by Wharton researcher Basima Tewfik. Insecure people seemed to be encouraged to prove themselves on an interpersonal level.

Imposter syndrome, according to research, is a double-edged sword. Fear can hold people back and cause them to underperform. But it can also motivate them to master their work.

Line chart showing the gap in trust between male and female leaders by age

Nevertheless, it is an obstacle to get to the top. Few business and political leaders climb the fat pole without having confidence. This is due to a widespread tendency to see bravado and charisma as a sign of leadership potential, according to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, a business psychology professor at University College London and Columbia University. Those with a quieter leadership style are often overlooked. Women are less likely to overestimate themselves, he argues. Consequently, many poor fit men get top posts.

Arrogant people even use humble-proud as a way of stealing from the social equity of the subconscious.

Score graph showing that fraudster syndrome tends to fade with experience by comparing the percentage of those with fraudster syndrome with years of experience

There is evidence that fraudulent syndrome disappears over time. A study of medical librarians found that three times as many of those new to the job had these feelings, compared to peers who had at least 11 years of experience. Perhaps the “shushing” of uncontrolled medical students brings out the tiger in a human.

Similarly, the trust gap between male and female leaders close with age, according to a study by business leaders by Zenger Folkman, a leadership development consultant.

There is a case to reconsider attitudes towards fraudulent syndrome. A lack of self-confidence is a nuisance. Its flip side – complacency and arrogance – is even more damaging.

But for the moment, in a world that tends to believe individuals’ own judgment of themselves, trust is a well-rewarded trait. “Fake it until you make it, then keep faking it” is the most lucrative strategy for ambitious people.

The Lex team is interested in hearing more from readers. Please tell us what you think of Fraud Syndrome in the comments section below.



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