Impostor syndrome: What is it and why do so many Brits suffer from it at work - science behind it explained

It's thought that working from home could be a contributing factor.

Impostor syndrome can be sparked by a number of things - but it can be beaten. (Picture: Adobe Stock)Impostor syndrome can be sparked by a number of things - but it can be beaten. (Picture: Adobe Stock)
Impostor syndrome can be sparked by a number of things - but it can be beaten. (Picture: Adobe Stock)

We've all had that feeling of not belonging in the job we have.

After climbing the ranks in your company, you might find yourself taking an introspective moment of self-doubt, questioning how you got to the position you're in today and whether you're even worthy of the job title you hold. Well fear not - you are not alone.

New research suggests that three in five professionals in the UK suffer from impostor syndrome, a psychological condition where individuals believe that they don’t deserve the success they have achieved, despite having the skills to back it up. Instead, these people attribute their success to deceiving others into thinking they are more capable than they consider themselves to be.

The YouGov survey might make for concerning reading, and Martin Lucass of Manchester Young Professionals says it can have a huge impact on work life.

He said: "Whilst impostor syndrome is not limited to a particular age group, profession, or level of success, the statistics are staggering.”

“The impact on confidence can be profound. It can impact mental wellbeing, hinder professional growth, and sabotage the ability to enjoy and acknowledge achievements. It is important for individuals suffering from impostor syndrome to understand that there are effective strategies to manage it and that by doing so, they can create a sense of comfort and confidence within their roles.

"Remember that you have the potential to achieve your goals, and impostor syndrome should never hold you back from reaching your full potential.”

While the exact triggers of impostor syndrome have not been researched, impostor syndrome expert Chloe Brotheridge suggests that hybrid working may create "fertile ground" for the condition.

She said: "There are many root causes of impostor syndrome. They often include perfectionism, a fear of failure, and societal pressures to achieve a certain level of success. Social media has also exacerbated these feelings, as we're constantly exposed to curated versions of others' lives, leading to unhealthy comparisons.

"Recent trends suggest that instances of impostor syndrome are increasing, with around 80 per cent of us experiencing it to some degree. The fast-paced nature of today's world, coupled with the isolation brought on by remote working conditions, has created a fertile ground for self-doubt to flourish. The lack of casual, affirming interactions in a physical workspace can often make us feel disconnected and more susceptible to impostor syndrome."

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.