A possible cure for impostor syndrome

By dkl9, written 2023-337, revised 2023-337 (0 revisions)

Impostor syndrome is a condition in which one believes (but may or may not alieve) that they are substantially less skilled/intelligent/valuable than others seem to think. Conventional sources may tell you to treat it by various verbal-emotional processes. If it specifically takes the form of "I am not smart, despite outside claims to the contrary", that's not the only way, and probably not the easiest way, either.

  1. Take an IQ test, or one of several other standardised tests strongly correlated with intelligence, such as the SAT.
  2. Don't cheat on the test.
  3. Translate the score x into a z-score (standard deviations above the mean) by comparison to the general population. (Roughly, z = (x - 100) / 15 for IQ, and z = (x - 1050) / 200 for SAT.)
  4. Is z less than, say, 1? You might just be not-conventionally-smart, making the belief not actually impostor syndrome.
  5. Understand the normal distribution and standard deviations. (Nice z-score you have there. What is it, 2? Even that makes you 97th percentile.)
  6. Tests like that straightforwardly and objectively measure intelligence. Yes, there's a bit of error, but not enough to turn objectively-average into apparently-amazing. No, you didn't cheat — you followed step 2, right?
  7. When impostor syndrome strikes, remind yourself of what happened in steps 5 and 6.
  8. No need to boast. This is supposed to calibrate internal beliefs.

The process worked for at least one person.