Talk:Impostor syndrome

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there are a lot of similarities between this, it strikes me, and pessimistic explanitory stiles, and that might be an interesting and productive "see also" section, or possible connection section. Seligman, Abramson, etc. are the ones to look to for this, it strikes me....Tychoish 01:15, 8 April 2007 (UTC)

Could you please indicate some of the links you are referring to? --Waldir talk 08:29, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
 Done: added to the "See also" section. --M4gnum0n (talk) 09:36, 4 December 2013 (UTC)


"It is typically associated with academics..." Perhaps a better wording might be "commonly," rather than "typically"? Much of the research and discussion has occurred in academic settings (for obvious reasons), but I'm not aware of any evidence suggesting that Impostor Syndrome is less prevalent in other sectors. Hiddenriver (talk) 22:36, 15 September 2009 (UTC)

 Done --Waldir talk 08:29, 14 August 2010 (UTC)

I just made some small changes. Dr. Pauline R. Clance, the founding pioneer in the field, has messaged me and specifically stated that the phrase "impostor syndrome" is scientifically inaccurate. She prefers the more correct "impostor phenomenon." In addition, I took the liberty of updating the 70% statistic that was previously in place, as Dr. Clance explicitly stated that that statistic applied only to a very specific group and could not be generalized to a larger population. I do not have an account here, so feel free to message me at if you have any questions or need any evidence here.

Hopefully putting my email in public does not do anything awful.


I feel like I'm only pretending to edit Wikipedia right now, like inwardly I'm not a Wikipedian. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:14, 17 November 2009 (UTC)

Lol, good example :) --Waldir talk 08:29, 14 August 2010 (UTC)
No true wikipedians. :) Shabda (talk) 10:45, 16 November 2010 (UTC)


Imposter or impostor? Both are used in the article. Fryboy (talk) 06:19, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

It looks like this has been fixed, only impostor is used. (talk) 01:10, 18 April 2013 (UTC)


Impostor syndrome is another symptom of the same condition that instigates failed exam dreams which are typical of college graduates. In this dream, the dreamer is back in college where he has signed up for a class then forgot to attend it until final exams. Psychoanalysts interpret it as a suppressed wish to fail and to atone for evil wishes in childhood. In other words, the underlying psychology is universal. According to Freud, all mental illness is an exaggeration of normality. (talk) 02:25, 6 October 2011 (UTC)

New Material[edit]

This article has been expanded as part of my class's participation in the APS Wikipedia initiative. Class is History and Systems of Psychology, North Dakota State University, Spring 2013. It is no longer a stub. James Council (talk) 20:26, 3 May 2013 (UTC)


This article spends a great deal of time discussing how this is more prevalent in women. The first paragraph in the "Demographics" section then claims, "[it] has since been shown to occur for an equal number of men." And then the section goes right back to talking about how it's more common in women. I don't feel well-versed enough in the subject to try and fix this (ha!) but as written, it is a very confusing article. NealePickett (talk) 23:52, 9 May 2013 (UTC)

This quite contradictory sentence seems to epitomise the problem with the article: "The impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women, but there is some evidence it occurs in a comparable number of men." Without digging into the sources, intuitively it would seem that historically the focus has been on women, but recent evidence suggests it affects men "comparably". — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:41, 28 October 2013 (UTC)
Could it be trying to say something like... Among all people, impostor syndrome is common among high-achieving women, but between the genders, it's about equal--so, it's spread out more evenly among men, and not focused among the highest-achieving men?
It could be but I think this is unlikely. If this is what they are trying to say then some clarification would be useful. -- Q Chris (talk) 16:06, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
I strongly suspect that the entirety of the reason for the talk about women is that someone named Valerie Young wrote a self-help book about the impostor syndrome in women. Spam links to her site, and even directly to her book's Amazon sales page have been repeatedly added to this article in the past. PHaze (talk) 22:28, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

There are various criticisms of the introductory phrasing levelled in this talk from PyCon UK 2015. Although I don't personally have the knowledge or sources to argue for these points.Nottrobin (talk) 22:38, 24 September 2015 (UTC)

I've attempted to discuss this with some women in related fields and found myself shouted down. (Now there's a surprise). I think IS is more reported in women because (and high-fliers in particular) because women are more likely to be open. For men, this might be perceived as a weakness and something to pounce on. The primary source material making this claim was also authored by three women so a bias is likely (even if its not conscious). Sorry for the drive-by but I can't remember my damn password. (talk) 00:41, 7 February 2017 (UTC)

Copyright issue[edit]

2 paragraphs from Demographics were removed as copyvio than re-added with the comment "There were only 10 copied phrases, give them a warning and replace the unreliable source with a {{citation needed}}.", which popped my eyes out. The reversion also added a tag warning about possible copyvio with

After comparing both pieces with average attention, I find the violation to be moderate. However, the problematic content was added in a recent large series of edits from which most of the article's current content comes. [1] is essentially what these edits amount to. The editor behind those is User:Dmesser0, who drafted the big initial edit on User:Dmesser0/sandbox. Dmesser0 claims to be a psychology student whose only contributions to Wikipedia were to this article. His contribution was prompted by an initiative to involve psychology people in Wikipedia.

I have read the article completely and consider its quality satisfactory. However, I hit another problematic borrowing from [2] when checking a reference in the Background section. The reference says:

Such sentiments seem at odds with entrepreneurship. Starting companies, after all, requires plus-size confidence, and few positions are more exposed than the summit of one’s own business. In addition, factors that often contribute to the impostor syndrome--such as poor academic records and uninspiring early careers--are badges of pride for many entrepreneurs, who often speak derisively of M.B.A.’s and have made “fake it till you make it” a mantra.
This seems untrue because entrepreneurs who own large companies should have self-confident attitudes and few positions are more exposed than the decline of one's own business. Many business owners also think they are only successful because of the amount of time they put into their business, not because they are talented at their work naturally.

Presumably, the bold part was copy-pasted and slightly modified, but it remains a close paraphrase (and, at least for me, becomes unintelligible).

After spending a fair bit of time evaluating the problem, I'm not sure what needs to be done. There may be some unfortunate copies, but I didn't find them severe. --Chealer (talk) 01:38, 17 August 2013 (UTC)

I did close spot-checking throughout and found problematic passages from one other source, but these are also moderate. Before even reading this note I had concluded that this material sounded like a good student research paper. Not quite professional, but overall well done, with some paraphrase inadequate to our purposes. I've flagged the additional source I've found. --Moonriddengirl (talk) 11:12, 25 September 2013 (UTC)

Why must a feminist tone be inserted inserted into this article? The only source given is an essay by a psychology professor. There is no evidence to support the claims made in this article and neither is that professor qualified to speak about mental disorders. That is the difference between psychologists and psychiatrists. It's a sham of a science based upon the ramblings of that pervert Sigmund Freud. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:25, 1 August 2017 (UTC)

The "Potential Mechanisms" Section[edit]

I'm looking at the potential mechanisms section. It doesn't cite any sources, and I really don't believe it, or think it really makes much sense to begin with. I vote in favor of removing it if we don't find sources soon. Even if we do find sources... What is the section trying to do? Do we need it? Daniel J. Hakimi (talk) 15:56, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

Yes Daniel, you're so right. I was going to say exactly the same thing. It would be useful for the writer to have included some sources when writing this part. I also am in favour of this section's deletion. Byjinglemen (talk) 20:49, 8 May 2014 (UTC)

Agreed. I just removed the section. I believe it was likely a remnant of repeated attempts to use this article to promote a self-help book targeting women. PHaze (talk) 22:34, 30 June 2014 (UTC)

(c)Overt Falsification of Material[edit]

Being the type to get curious when claims are buried in citation salad, I went through pains to get my hands on Vera, Elizabeth's "Encyclopedia of Multicultural Psychology", which is sourced as material derived from pages 475-480. Appended to the chapter "White Privilege" was the following claim, "African American women may be led to believe they gained their positions only because of affirmative action, causing them to develop what is known as imposter syndrome". This claim was not specifically sourced, rather the chapter itself was given about 4-5 footnotes. No other mention of this pathology was made. Given this revelation, I do not find the following claim to be legitimate, "Another demographic group that often suffers from this phenomenon is people of color. Being the beneficiary of affirmative action may cause a person who belongs to a visible minority to doubt their own abilities and suspect that their skills were not what allowed them to be hired". Either it needs to be reworded or removed. (talk) 11:25, 15 May 2014 (UTC)

I'm glad someone went to source this. Yeah, just because someone says it in a book doesn't make it legitimate, especially when the person who made the claims themselves never provided anything other than a claim. Plus, the authors wording is completely different. The claim on wiki states 'it's because of affirmative action' where as the author clearly states that 'these people are LED TO BELIEVE it's only because of affirmative action'. Even if the claim can be demonstrated to be truthful, it's not saying what these racists are claiming it's saying. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 14:31, 27 April 2017 (UTC)


Changed an instance of "females," referring to female humans, to "women." This is the correct term and mirrors usage of "women" later in the article.

This is a garbage sexist article. (talk) 04:44, 7 March 2015 (UTC)


Why does the section on "Therapy" begin with a description of one methodology? The thesis sentence has nothing to do with impostor syndrome; it's a definition of coherence therapy. It's biased and misleading to describe one of many therapies as though it's universally accepted and universally relevant. If anyone has a reason for leading readers to think one kind of therapy is particularly salient, edit the section to reflect that. Otherwise, I'm deleting it. Come on. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:47, 14 July 2015 (UTC)

I edited the "Therapy" section to address this issue. Biogeographist (talk) 20:36, 15 December 2017 (UTC)

Gender differences[edit]

The article focuses greatly on women but does not explain why the behaviour of high-achieving women is considered different from the behaviour of males. can anyone explain how/why the behaviour is different (if it is)? ( (talk) 07:51, 31 August 2015 (UTC))

70% of the population[edit]

The referenced article references another article (which I could not get), but claims the other article estimates 70% of the working population having experienced this at some point. Generalising from this to 70% of the population worldwide seems unwarranted, unless someone can source the original article and check their sampling? Allan533 (talk) 03:35, 25 May 2016 (UTC)

I am the same editor from above who was in contact with Dr. Clance. She has confirmed that this sort of generalization of her statistic is incorrect. I have edited the article to reflect this.

New page?[edit]

Hi Everyone! My name is Katie and I will be adding to this page, specifically talking about Students of Color and Imposter Syndrome. I wanted to give y'all a heads up that this will be coming soon. I look forward to your feedback! Here are the sources I will be using:

Hoang, Queena (2013) The imposter phenomenon: Overcoming internalized barries and recognizing achievements. The Vermont Connection. 34(6). Retrieved from: Katie Estrella (talk) 23:33, 24 April 2017 (UTC)

My initial reaction is that none of the above references seem to point to anything specific issues regarding students of colour. There is undoubtedly some research in this area exists, for example study shows impostor syndromes effect minority students mental health. To warrant a new page you will need to find enough that is specific or different regarding students of colour to make a page. If you only find a couple of paragraphs then it may be better to add a section to this page, as they would probably end up being merged anyway.
Also I suggest that it might be easier to find more information and more useful if you broadened it to all people of colour, not just students. I am sure that perceptions (like I am often mistaken for one of the serving staff and Black MP Dawn Butler Describes Being Mistaken For A ‘Cleaner’ In Parliament) must have an affect on working people of colour, as will affirmative action, quota systems, etc. - Q Chris (talk) 12:51, 26 April 2017 (UTC)
BTW I look forward to reading your page or additions to this page -- Q Chris (talk) 07:16, 28 April 2017 (UTC)
I don't think that topic merits its own page. The current entry is redundant and poorly organized, I'd start with working your sources in to tighten up the text. Bangabandhu (talk) 14:59, 28 April 2017 (UTC)

Some content I removed because I think it's unencyclopedic[edit]

Below are suggestions published by the International Weekly Journal of Science on resisting and combating feelings of being an impostor:[1]

  • Being kind to onesself
  • Seeking support and sharing one's feelings
  • Not using minimizing qualifiers like "just" and "only" when describing one's own work
  • Not pre-emptively apologize for self-perceived mistakes

❃Adelaide❃ (talk) 06:16, 9 October 2017 (UTC)


  1. ^ Woolston, Chris (January 27, 2016). "Psychology: Faking it". International Weekly Journal of Science (559): 555–557. doi:10.1038/nj7587-555a. Retrieved April 26, 2017.

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Copyedit for class[edit]

Hello! I'm currently in a class where we've been asked to review an article and make a small edit. I've made an edit to streamline a sentence about Clance's suggestion that men experience the syndrome as well. Thanks! Spsjaggy1 (talk) 05:03, 13 November 2017 (UTC)

Editing/expanding the article[edit]

Hello everyone. My name is Kaila, and I'm editing/expanding this article as part if an assignment for my advanced writing course. I will be explaining my thoughts and ideas for the article below. Any feedback on my ideas would be greatly appreciated!


Atkins.ka (talk) 20:12, 27 May 2018 (UTC)Atkins.ka

Sources(Collected thus far): 2.

Current agenda for editing/expanding the article:

  • Heading: 'Background'
    • Flip the paragraphs
    • Expand on repeated words
    • Go into more detail on the OG research
    • Create subheadings: "Original Research" and another one
    • Point out bias and lack of research from the beginning
  • Heading: 'Signs and symptoms'
    • Delete "can take different forms" - just say that "common signs of impostor experience are..."
    • Use different descriptor besides "some" and "many"
  • Heading:'Occurrence'
    • Retitle: 'Prevalence'
    • Delete subheading itself
    • Add more info. about psychological research being referenced (lack examples + citations)
    • Delete repeated info.
  • Subheading: 'Demographics'
    • Delete subheading
    • Include info in intro paragraph for overall section
    • Add more citations
  • Subheading: 'High Achievers'
    • Define "high achiever" with citation (use Imes and Clance's definition)
    • Include years in parenthetical citations
    • Reference research discussed earlier (in their 1978 study of x amount of "high-achieving" woman..., Imes and Clance theorized...)
    • Review Imes and Clance research to verify the suggested behaviors used as subheadings
    • Define everything (ex: "gifted")
    • Who is Young? (The "impostor" person may feel they need to work two or three times as hard, so over-prepare, tinker and obsess over details, says Young.)
    • Shift final paragraph to reference Clance's suggestion about prevalence among men then give examples of recent studies about men and imposter syndrome.
  • Subheading: 'Ethnicity'
    • Highlight what Imes and Clance (1978) did or did not have to say about ethnicity then introduce research specifically references the two
    • Be specific in discussing research and implications
    • Reframe description of UT Austin Study alongside other research examples
  • Heading: 'Benefits'
    • Evaluate how it adds to understanding of imposter syndrome
  • Subheading: 'Diagnosis'
    • Should this be a heading?
    • How is it diagnosed and how often?
    • What does the DSM say?
    • What version of the DSM?
  • Heading: 'Management'
    • Review contents and determine if certain information should be in a different section
    • Expand to be more robust with concrete statements
    • Reference the Diagnosis section in discussing management
    • Expand "Therapy" section with more details from references
  • Heading: 'See Also'
    • Consider how it integrate all information in this section into other parts of the article
  • Other possible headings:
    • Society and Culture
      • Move information about famous people with impostor syndrome here
      • Include any pop culture references here as well
    • Future Research/Further Research/Research Considerations (if it applies)
      • Could connect with Further Reading section
      • Maybe include counter research that says it does not exist?
      • Again discuss bias and lack of research, etc.

These notes will be in my sandbox as well. This is just my game plan at the moment as far as editing the article goes.


Atkins.ka (talk) 20:12, 27 May 2018 (UTC)Atkins.ka

@Atkins.ka: Please note that headings in Wikipedia should be in sentence case not title case, per MOS:HEAD. Many phrases in your comment above that refer to headings are in title case but should be in sentence case.
One of your sections above says "Diagnosis", but impostor syndrome is not a psychiatric diagnosis; Pauline Clance is quoted in the article as saying: "If I could do it all over again, I would call it the impostor experience, because it's not a syndrome or a complex or a mental illness, it's something almost everyone experiences." It's just a label for a common experience, not (apparently) intended to pathologize that experience. On the inappropriateness of pathologizing such experiences, you may want to read, for example: Kutchins, Herb; Kirk, Stuart A. (1997). "Pathologizing everyday behavior". Making us crazy: DSM: the psychiatric bible and the creation of mental disorders. New York: Free Press. pp. 21–54. ISBN 0684822806. OCLC 37109140. Biogeographist (talk) 02:49, 28 May 2018 (UTC)

New content[edit]

Hi everyone, it's Kaila again. I have concluded my edits on the article for my class. I will be transferring the edited/expanded content from my sandbox to the article soon. I would appreciate any feedback you have on the newly edited article! Thanks and happy reading! Atkins.ka (talk) 17:32, 21 June 2018 (UTC)atkins.ka

@Atkins.ka: I've cleaned up your updates. You re-used many references several times, so I've consolidated those into single reused citations. I've also cleared up some of the organization (you had level 2 headings followed by level 5, which can be confusing), and I've removed some material that was extraneous. WikiDan61ChatMe!ReadMe!! 19:51, 21 June 2018 (UTC)
@Atkins.ka: Your rewrite included the statement "Arnkoff stated that Cognitive Therapy is the best approach when helping individuals with IP". This claim that cognitive therapy "is the best approach" was unsupported by any source, and claims of superiority of any one therapy approach are extremely contentious, so I have removed the claim. I am not sure how many other unsupported claims such as this one are in your rewrite, as I haven't thoroughly checked all of the claims against the sources. I am concerned that there may be over-reliance on a few sources in your rewrite. Biogeographist (talk) 14:38, 23 June 2018 (UTC)

Imposter Syndrome and Women of Color in Academia[edit]

Hi All! Adding a section to this page on Women of Color's experiences with Imposter syndrome in Academia.

Research findings suggest that Imposter Syndrome/Phenomenon (IP) affects women of color mentally and academically. A pattern in the research literature shows that women report experiencing IP more frequently than men. Women of color also often are inflicted with imposter syndrome in elite universities (Miller & Kastberg, 2011; Miller & Kastberg, 2011). Research stated that though men do experience doubt and lack of belonging in academia, being a woman and a person of color in the United States means being susceptible to encountering “hideous forms of racism and sexism” (Cohen & Garcia, 2007). Therefore, these intersectional experiences of racism and sexism amplify the likelihood that women of color might experience IP. The intersection of race and gender for women of color in academia is important because both identities can heavily impact women of color and their experience in academia especially if their identities are visible. For example, a Black woman in higher education might fear she will be stereotyped as aggressive or angry if they express an opposing opinion in class. According to Miller and Kastberg, explicit and subtle forms of racism and sexism make it much more difficult for women of color to break through the barriers of higher education. Another example, explicit racist policies that exclude Asian American women suggest that they do not experience academic barriers. Therefore these women may not feel as though they are allowed to ask for help. Likewise, indirect biases such as a Latina woman being asked about how her family feels about her being at school instead of becoming a stay at home mother and wife may cause her to feel misunderstood and excluded in academic culture. Studies on IP have shown that the intersecting identities of women of color in academia affect identity development and goal achievement. For example, Ostrove (2003) found that women of color from lower and middle-class backgrounds reported feeling more alienated from their peers during their time spent at an elite college. Similarly, Walton and Cohen’s (2007) work on the effects of racial underrepresentation at elite private universities shows that Women of colors’ alienating experience in academia could easily lead to experiencing Imposter syndrome. Common causes of IP include such experiences as stigma, stereotype threat, or an overall sense of “intellectual phoniness” (Howell & Buro, 2008). For example, a women attending a predominately white institution is likely to worry that her accomplishments are not good enough relative to her peer’s accomplishments. These thoughts could derive from feeling like she was accepted into a university because of affirmative action or by “accident.” Worse still is that she is likely to experience racialized and gendered microaggressions on campus that suggest her white peers and professors believe she is not as smart as or worthy as other white students to be at the university.

Sources Attewell, P., & Domina, T. (2010). Educational imposters and fake degrees. Research in Social Stratification and Mobility , 57-69. Cohen, G. L., & Garcia, J. (2007). Identity, Belonging, and Achievement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology , 82-96. Howell, A., & Buro, K. (2008). Implicit beliefs, achievement goals, and procrastination: A mediational analysis. Elsevier , 151-154. Miller, D., & Kastberg, S. (2011). Of blue collars and ivory towers: Women from blue-collar backgrounds in higher education. Roeper Review .

Ostrove, J. M. (2007). Belonging and Wanting: Meanings of Social ClassBackground for Women’s Constructions of theirCollege Experiences. Journal of Social Issues , 771-784. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Lucia Plascencia (talkcontribs) 03:40, 10 December 2018 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 7 February 2019[edit]

In the second sentence of the third paragraph under Management heading: change "live" to "living" or add "who" in between "Individuals live". Wasphilux (talk) 19:46, 7 February 2019 (UTC)

 Done DannyS712 (talk) 20:11, 7 February 2019 (UTC)