In this Ted talk with Elizabeth Cox, she explains the psychology behind Imposter Syndrome. The term is used when someone feels inadequately about a success of theirs, or has doubts that their work doesn’t deserve the praise that it gets. This feeling is extremely common which is why it’s known as a syndrome.

Psychologist, Dr. Pauline Rose Clance, was the first to study the social insecurity. Working as a therapist, she noticed that her graduate students all had the same query about their grades, feeling that they didn’t deserve to go to University for them.

Accomplishers such as Albert Einstein and Maya Angelou, also experienced these same feelings. But where do they come from? Highly skilled or accomplished people tend to think that others are just as skilled as themselves which can spiral into further doubts that they don’t warrant certain opportunities. And it’s not juts restricted to highly skilled people. This is called ‘Pluralistic ignorance’ – where we privately doubt ourselves but don’t believe that others are also feeling the same doubt, since not a lot of people will speak out about it.

These feelings are hard to put aside, however the best way that you can is to talk about them. From talking about self-doubt to someone else, you might learn that that it isn’t only you that feels this way. And finding out that a mentor, or teacher that has also felt this way, and knowing that there is a term for it, can be a great relief.

Dr. Clance has even created a scale for it, called the Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) which is a series of questions analysing on a number scale from 1 (not at all true) to 5 (very true) to work out if this is what you are experiencing.

Original video created and published by TED-Ed

Original article written by Pauline Rose Clance

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