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In the first of a series of articles by students from Kingston Business School, Shane Stennicke-Ronsholdt looks at ‘Imposter syndrome’.


Inadequate, a fake, a fraud, unworthy: if you have ever had a strong sense of any of these feelings, you most likely suffer from the impostor syndrome.

According to Kolligian & Sternberg (1991), perceived fraudulence is a subjective experience of perceived intellectual phoniness that is held by certain high-achieving adults who, despite their objective successes, fail to internalize these successes. There are multiple causes to this syndrome, such as personality type, depression, lack of self-confidence and frustrations related to not being able to meet self imposed standards (Clance & Imes, 1978).

The feeling of being inadequate and unworthy is something I have experienced multiple times in my life. Having thought about it, in my personal case I have come to the realization that it mostly relates to the fact that we in general as people tend to worship and compare ourselves to “higher-ups” (Burkman, 2013). Consequently, for me, these feelings arise from the frustrations that derive from feeling like I haven’t met the goals or standards I have imposed on myself.

Overcoming this feeling of being an imposter is a debate that has been going on for years amongst experts and has yet to achieve a final verdict.  A solution however, according to Burkeman (2013), is for these “higher-ups” to talk more about their own insecurities, thus enabling us to be more realistic about our own work. Other solutions are such as learning to internalize external validation, speak with someone you trust and try to sit down and get a realistic view of yourself and your abilities (Roche, 2013).

Lastly a very important factor that I feel needs to be taken into account, is that “Individuals with the impostor syndrome are often intelligent and high achievers” (Brems et al 1994). Therefore learning to be realistic about one-self’s abilities and goals I believe, will enable the victims of this syndrome to come out successful in whatever they may chose in life.


Brems, C., Baldwin, M.R., David, L., Namyniuk, L., (1994) ‘The Impostor Syndrome as Related to Teaching Evaluations and Advising Relationships of University Faculty Members’. Journal of Higher Education, Vol.65 (2), p183-193. EBSCOhost Business Source Premier [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 23 November 2014)

Burkeman., O., (2013) ‘This column will change your life: do you feel a fraud?’ The Guardian [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 10 December 2014)

Clance, P.R., & Imes, S.A., (1978) ‘The impostor phenomenon in high achieving women: dynamics and therapeutic intervention’. Psychotherapy: Theory, research and practice. 15, 241-247

Kolligian, J., Sternberg, R.J., (1991) ‘Perceived fraudulence in young adults: is there an “imposter syndrome”? Journal of Personality Assessment, Vol.56 (2), p.308-326. EBSCOhost Business Source Premier [Online]. Available at: 23 November 2014)

Roche., J. (2013) ‘10 Ways to Overcome Impostor Syndrome’ Shriver Report [Online]. Available at: (Accessed: 10 December 2014)

About the Author

Shane Baron Stennicke-RoensholdtShane Baron Stennicke-Roensholdt has just finished his Bachelor’s degree in International Business with French at Kingston University. Shane believes that Business Psychology should be a core module for students wishing to undertake Bachelor degrees in the business field. Shane is now about to undertake a Master’s degree at City University in Business Management, and upon completion he hopes to acquire a job in one of the big multinational companies, such as Hugo Boss, Tesla or Apple. His long term goal is to become a top manager in one of these multinational companies, and eventually go on to become a global CEO.

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