Recently, I taught a class about the impostor syndrome for a group of graduate students. I decided that I would feel like an impostor if I lectured to the participants (since I extol the virtues of interactive training). So, I designed and used this game.


Give each participant a piece of information about the impostor syndrome. Ask the participants to share the information with each other for 7 minutes. Instruct the participants to organize the information they collected. Ask each participant to write a short paragraph about the impostor syndrome.


To recall and organize bits of information about the impostor syndrome.


Minimum: 10

Maximum: Any number

Best: 20 to 30

Time Requirement

30 to 45 minutes


  • Factoid cards. Each card (or piece of paper) contains one bit of information about the impostor syndrome. You should have a different factoid card for each player. Use the list of facts at the end of this article to create these cards.
  • 28 Facts About the Impostor Syndrome. (For distribution at the end of the game.)


Paper and pencil


  • Stopwatch or timer
  • Whistle


Brief the participants. Explain the flow of the game: At the beginning of the activity, each participant will receive a different piece of information about the impostor syndrome. At the end of the activity, everybody will write a paragraph about this syndrome using different pieces of information. In between, the participants will share the bits of information with each other and organize the collected information.

Prime the participants. Give each person a factoid card. Ask participants to memorize the information and return the card within the next 60 seconds. Give each participant a couple of sheets of blank paper for taking notes.

Mingle and share. After you have collected the factoid cards from everyone, set the timer for 7 minutes and blow a whistle. Announce the beginning of the information-sharing process. Tell the participants to exchange their bits of information with each other. Encourage the participants to take notes.

Write a paragraph. After 7 minutes, blow the whistle and announce the end of the information-sharing period. Tell the participants that they have 3 minutes to write a logically-organized paragraph on the impostor syndrome using the information they collected earlier. Set the timer for 3 minutes and announce the beginning of the writing period.

Read paragraphs. After 3 minutes, blow the whistle and collect the paragraphs written by the participants. Randomly select a couple of paragraphs and read them.

Follow up. Distribute the handout, 28 Facts About the Impostor Syndrome, with all the factoids in a random order.




28 Facts About the Impostor Syndrome

  1. People who are intelligent and accomplished are more likely to suffer from impostor syndrome than others.
  2. At some point in their lives, 70 percent of people go through the imposter syndrome.
  3. Two American psychologists, Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes coined the term “Impostor Syndrome” in 1978.
  4. Impostor syndrome is not a psychological defect or mental illness. It is just a name for a common cluster of feelings.
  5. People with imposter syndrome think they are frauds and phonies.
  6. People with imposter syndrome keep apologizing for small mistakes they make.
  7. People with imposter syndrome are highly self-critical.
  8. People with imposter syndrome believe they got their job because they were at the right place at the right time.
  9. People with imposter syndrome believe that they are not worthy of the recognition they receive.
  10. Much of the research work in the field of impostor syndrome has been conducted with professional women.
  11. People don’t tell their colleagues and friends about their impostor syndrome because they are embarrassed and worried.
  12. People with imposter syndrome discard and discount valid external evidence of their talents and accomplishments.
  13. People with imposter syndrome tend to be perfectionists.
  14. People with imposter syndrome do not complete the projects they start.
  15. People with imposter syndrome attribute their successes to chance and blind luck.
  16. People with imposter syndrome do not celebrate their successes.
  17. When people with impostor syndrome accomplish more, they also begin to doubt themselves more.
  18. Impostor syndrome occurs frequently in academic, creative, and performance art professions.
  19. People with imposter syndrome over-prepare, work hard, and keep tweaking their products.
  20. People with imposter syndrome doubt their strengths, talents, and abilities.
  21. Maya Angelou says, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
  22. People with imposter syndrome over-react to negative feedback and take it as evidence of somebody finding them out.
  23. People with imposter syndrome feel they know nothing and other people in their field know everything.
  24. People with imposter syndrome believe that they got their job because of mistakes made by the people who hired them.
  25. People with impostor syndrome believe that their supervisors overestimate them.
  26. According to Wikipedia, people who have experienced the imposter syndrome include Academy Award-winning actors, screenwriters, best-selling authors, comedians, business leaders, U.S. Supreme Court justices, and actresses.
  27. People with imposter syndrome feel they are unqualified for their job.
  28. People with imposter syndrome believe that they are fooling their managers and clients.