While imposter syndrome can be linked to anxiety and low self-worth it could actually improve your performance at your job. 

A new study has shown that people suffering from imposter syndrome are more confident in their work relationships, and can be a greater employee.  

The belief that your success is not deserved, or was due to luck rather than because of your own hard work or skill is called imposter syndrome. 

People with the syndrome often see themselves as a fraud and worry that others will also realize their mistake. 

Imposter syndrome - an inability to believe that your success is deserved or has been achieved as a result of your own efforts or skills - may have interpersonal benefits in the workplace, reports a psychologist at MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts (stock image of a woman with imposter syndrome)

Imposter syndrome – an inability to believe that your success is deserved or has been achieved as a result of your own efforts or skills – may have interpersonal benefits in the workplace, reports a psychologist at MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts (stock image of a woman with imposter syndrome)

What exactly is the imposter syndrome? 

You believe your success was due to your hard work or abilities, but you don’t believe it.

According to Thomas Jefferson University, it is associated with anxiety, depression, self-sabotage, and low self-esteem. 

Imposters believe their success in life is due to luck, circumstance or some other factor.  

It affects people both in the workplace and in the classroom. 

Imposter Syndrome is not a medical diagnosis. However, many workers experience it as a common fear. 

In 1978 an article was published that first described the psychological phenomenon. It involved women suffering from imposter syndrome despite their academic and professional achievements. 

The new study was conducted by Basima Tewfik, a psychologist at the MIT Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts and published in Academy of Management Journal. 

In her research paper, she states that the “prevailing wisdom” paints impostor phenomena as negative. 

“In my work I aim to balance the conversation surrounding this phenomenon by emphasizing that interpersonal benefits may be also be a result of it.”

Tewfik called imposter Syndrome a “silver liner that actually does contribute to success” 

New Scientist reported that “people with impostor Syndrome were basically the people you’d like to work with.”  

For the study, Tewfik measured levels of impostor syndrome among 155 employees at an investment advisory firm in the US. 

The participant was asked to give written statements, such as “At Work, other people think that I have greater knowledge or abilities than I think” and to rate how true these thoughts were.

Tewfik asked each participant to turn to their work supervisors to find out if they had a different view of the employee.

Participants were rated by their performance and interpersonal skills. Supervisors gave feedback on how they felt about statements such as “This employee builds effective working relationships” or “This employee is a good friend to colleagues.” 

Tewfik discovered that impostor syndrome employees were more competent than their confident counterparts and had better interpersonal skills. 


According to the 2021 Family Medicine study, imposter syndrome is common in high-achieving medical students.

Thomas Jefferson University researchers investigated imposter Syndrome in 257 Students using a validated survey tool called Clance Imposter Phenomenon (IP Scale). 

87% of incoming students reported high- or very high levels of imposter syndrome. 

Higher IP scores in students were linked to lower self-compassion scores, sociability and self-esteem scores, as well as higher scores on anxiety/neuroticism. 

A high CIP score in medical school may indicate future psychological distress.

She said that employees who had more imposter syndrome thoughts were deemed more interpersonally efficient by their superiors because they have a greater ‘other-focused’ orientation.

At the same time, imposter syndrome thoughts can encourage those who have them to ‘self-handicap’ – in other words, to not really help themselves when it comes to doing their job to the best of their ability.

In a second experiment, Tewfik ascertained levels of imposter syndrome in They tested trainee doctors with real patients. 

Doctors with higher levels of the syndrome were more likely to make statements recognising a patient’s pain, ask follow-up questions, nod, use open hand gestures and eye contact, and talk with a receptive, agreeable tone, New Scientist reports. 

This suggests people with impostor syndrome in all sorts of professions – not just those based in offices – are unconsciously trying to compensate for their ‘self-perceived ineptitude’ by being personable and easy to get along with.   

Tewfik insists, however that she doesn’t believe her findings are a sign of imposter syndrome. 

‘There’s no neat takeaway message of “embrace your impostor thoughts!We know the detriments that can be done to your health,’ she stated. 

“I believe the focus now should be on how to reduce anxiety so that we can fully embrace the interpersonal upside.” 

People with imposter syndrome tend to think that their achievements in life are the result of luck or circumstance, or other factors (stock image)

People suffering from imposter syndrome believe that they have achieved success in life because of their luck, circumstance or some other factor (stock photo).

Researchers from Brigham Young University have previously found that if you suffer from imposter syndrome, it is best to reach out to friends and family outside of the workplace or in the case of a student, your academic superior. 

Jeff Bednar from BYU Management Professor stated that students who are not part of a social group can help them see the bigger picture and recalibrate reference groups.

Students are more able understand themselves holistically when they reach out to others for help, instead of focusing solely on the one thing they lack. 


According to a 2019 study, 20 per cent of individuals suffer from imposter syndrome, despite the fact they perform well when working.

Brigham Young University’s (BYU), had interviewed students from elite academic programs in the hopes of finding out how people with imposter syndrome deal. 

To combat these negative feelings, researchers have suggested ‘reaching out’ to friends and family outside the workplace – because they help people with imposter syndrome see the bigger picture.

The feeling of being a fraud increased when students “reached in” to other majors.

However, perceptions of impostorrism can be reduced if students’reach out to’ family members and friends beyond their major or professors.  

Researchers believe their findings can be used in the workplace, even though the research was done with students at universities. 

The study was published in The Journal of Vocational Behavior.