Superhero Syndrome

“I’ll just do it myself.” ✦ “No thanks, I better handle this one.” ✦ “If you want something done right, do it yourself.” ✦ “I can’t trust anyone else with this.”

The belief that we should be able to do it all without help is sometimes called “Superman Syndrome” or “Superhero Syndrome.” Phillip Thompson and Mark Bolino found five main reasons we push away help: (1) it diminishes our self-image, (2) we don’t want to feel obligated to return the favor, (3) we value self-reliance, (4) we don’t trust our coworkers, or (5) we think our coworkers are incompetent. This research also demonstrates that negative attitudes toward accepting help are associated with a bunch of lousy outcomes for your work and career.

We find that those who hold more negative beliefs are less likely to receive help from peers (and supervisors), report more negative job attitudes, and have lower levels of in-role performance, citizenship behavior, and creativity. Furthermore, employees with more negative beliefs about accepting help from coworkers are seen less favorably by their supervisors.

Link to the article in the Journal of Applied Psychology