Over 30% of Americans Suffer From Impostor Syndrome, Study Finds

MoneyPenny, a telephone answering service, was the provider of this study

If you’ve ever felt like you were not happy or confident in your job, you’re not alone.

A recent survey from the firm Moneypenny showed that nearly one-third of Americans say they suffer from impostor syndrome, which the National Institutes of Health defines as “high-achieving individuals who, despite their objective successes, fail to internalize their accomplishments and have persistent self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud or impostor.”

The firm surveyed 2,000 people and found that 18-24-year-olds suffered most from impostor syndrome. Forty-six percent of respondents in that age bracket reported feeling impostor syndrome at work.

Delaware and Pennsylvania ranked among the top 10 states in which people did not feel confident in their job. In Delaware, 24% of respondents reported feeling impostor syndrome, while in Pennsylvania, the number was 20%.

The state with the highest rate of people reporting impostor syndrome, meanwhile, was Florida at 31%.

Moneypenny found the following careers to be the ones with the highest rates of workers feeling impostor syndrome.

  • Pharmaceutical companies (28.6%)
  • Marketing, advertising and PR (25.6%)
  • Social care (20.0%)
  • Transport and logistics (18%)
  • Energy and utilities (18%)
  • Creative arts and design (18%)
  • Law (17%)
  • Teacher training and education (17%)
  • Sales (16%)
  • Engineering and manufacturing (14%)

What can you do about it?

Both employees and organizations can normalize the problem by talking about it, said Valerie Young, co-founder of the Imposter Syndrome Institute, which bills itself as “the official provider of information, insight and tools to organizations and individuals since 1982.”

Young advised workers to reframe their self-doubt.

“What everyone wants is to stop feeling like an impostor. But that’s not how it works. The only way to stop feeling like an impostor is to stop thinking like an impostor,” she said. “Change your thoughts first, then change your behavior by taking risks, and over time, your confidence will catch up.”  

Young advises that you keep going regardless of how you feel. “Keep practicing your work and your thought process, keep working to change your behavior. Confidence will be built over time. A healthy response to failure or mistakes might be more helpful in bouncing back quickly," Young said.

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