Study Finds the Benefits of Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a common psychological condition where someone doubts their abilities even after they succeed, usually due to perfection or social contexts. People with imposter syndrome often question their competency and feel undeserving of their positions. It could affect anyone no matter their expertise, skill and background.

How imposter syndrome manifests

When Pauline Rose and Suzanna Imes first coined this term, they used it to refer to women in high positions. Later on, other psychologists discovered it could apply to anyone. Imposter syndrome can be characterised by a tendency to sabotage one’s success, overachieving, self-doubt, thinking you can’t live up to people’s expectations, minimising your performance and thinking your success is only because of external factors.

While this could seem bad, experts have found that it has benefits. According to Basima Tewfik, a lead study author from the Sloan School of Management at MIT, this trait could be good for doctors. Tewfik explains that doctors in training with imposter syndrome tend to develop stronger interpersonal skills when communicating with their patients. Moreover, imposter syndrome made people more people-oriented and likeable.

The researchers evaluated 3603 employees from four separate studies on imposter syndrome. Their analysis revealed that people with the conditions had better interpersonal skills and were more likely to participate in teamwork.

People with imposter us drove tried to compensate 

The team explained that people who feel insufficient were more likely to try harder when interacting with their peers. As a result, they developed better interpersonal skills. This translated positively to their work.

Patients even rated doctors with imposter syndrome as better at getting information from them, having good listening skills, and being more empathetic. The researchers concluded that people with imposter syndrome tried to compensate for what they felt were their insufficiencies at work.

However, Tewfik pointed out that this didn’t eliminate the negative psychological ramifications of imposter syndrome. She added that there might not be a point where interpersonal communication was a requirement.

Fortunately, research also suggests that imposter syndrome isn’t permanent. The reason is that people become more confident in their abilities at work over time. The team also says they need to do more work to understand how imposter syndrome affects other areas of work performance.

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