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NextGen Magazine


Gen Z May Be Less Susceptible to Imposter Syndrome

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Feb 1, 2023

Imposter syndrome —the sense that one has not earned what one has achieved and is a fraud—can affect as many as 82 percent of people, scientists estimate, according to a publication of the American Psychological Association. But the members of Generation Z, those born between 1997 and 2012, may be less likely to suffer this experience than previous other generations, a marketing and communications firm CEO and former Pulitzer Prize-winning business journalist wrote in Fast Company.

The reasons for this include the “near ubiquity of technology, which allows this cohort to access information at a touch,” Anne Marie Squeo wrote.

“When you’re armed with information, you are just generally more confident,” said  Corey Seemiller, a professor at Wright State University who studies this group. “You don’t feel like an imposter because you know what you’re talking about.”

Members of this generation have also been formed by economic disruption caused by the Great Recession of 2008-09. The first post-9/11 generation, they “watched the average net worth of our parents get cut in half,” said Jonah Stillman, co-author of the book GenZ@Work. “We were told [by our Gen X parents that] if you don’t work your ass off, you’re probably going to be a loser.”

Imposter syndrome has career and business implications that stem from the fear of failing or feelings or low self-esteem, Squeo wrote. They include procrastination and hesitancy to seek a promotion, as well as mental health issues. Business leaders should be aware of what their team members are experiencing and “ensure that they provide an environment emphasizes strengths and capabilities,” she wrote.

As the largest generation in the world, or almost one-third of the world’s population of 7.7 billion, GenZ-ers are “acutely aware of their power and purpose,” she wrote. With so much knowledge and access granted to them by technology and social media, they “have the ability to take control of their reality,” brand strategist Adam Gray said. “You can really make the world whatever you want it to be by creating groups, hashtags, etc.”  

“This generation looks at the impact of what they want to do and how they get there can be incredibly fluid,” said Seemiller. But, the next generation, Gen Alpha, she said, will  challenge business even more. "They're Gen Z on steroids.”