Impostor Phenomenon: How the Feeling of Being a Fake in the Workplace Can Ruin Your Career

Nov 23, 2016 05:02 AM EST

A new study revealed that the sensation of being "fake" in the workplace, or more commonly known as "the impostor phenomenon" might have a negative impact in career prospects and business.

The study, published in the journal Frontiers of Psychology, showed that people who are feeling like fakes in their workplace tend to undervalue their talent, despite being high achieving. By not treading in their full potential, these individuals may ruin their careers and companies.

"As the impostor phenomenon contains the fear of being exposed, it might be expedient to provide networking programs or supervision groups where sufferers have the chance to share their experiences and feelings without any blaming," explained Dr. Mirjam Neureiter, one of the authors of the study, in a press release. "Incorporating the impostor topic in support measures might enhance the reduction of impostor feelings as well as their negative effects."

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For the study, Neureiter, together with Dr. Eva Traut-Mattausch analyzed the responses of 238 university alumni to an anonymous online letter. These alumni are now working in variety of sectors and profession. The online survey tackles how the impostor phenomenon affects a worker's attitude to their career development, their ability to adapt to new working conditions and their knowledge of the job market.

The researchers found that worker's suffering from the impostor phenomenon tend to experience various negative thoughts and emotions. These people are more prone to depression and are afraid of failing and being revealed as fake. Due to this, worker's with the impostor phenomenon tends to develop a cycle of thoughts that prevents them from developing optimistic perspective in the future.

Interestingly, the impostor phenomenon may have something positive to offer. People who feel like fake in their workplace appeared to be encouraged to offer their best performance to prevent being uncovered as frauds.

With their findings, the researchers are encouraging individuals who might be experiencing the impostor phenomenon to have someone to talk to.

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