In psychology, an inferiority complex is an intense personal feeling of inadequacy, often resulting in the belief that one is in some way deficient, or inferior, to others.
According to Alfred Adler, a feeling of inferiority may be brought about by upbringing as a child (for example, being consistently compared unfavorably to a sibling), physical and mental limitations, or experiences of lower social status (for example, being treated unfavorably by one's peers due to belonging to a different race, economic background, or gender).
An inferiority complex may cause an individual to overcompensate in a number of ways. For example, a man who feels inferior because they are shorter than average (also known as a Napoleon complex) may become overly concerned with how they appear to others- they may wear special shoes to make themselves appear taller or surround themselves with individuals who are even shorter than themselves. If this is taken to the extreme, it becomes a neurosis.
It may also cause an individual to be prone to flashy outward displays, with behaviors ranging from attention-seeking to excessive competitiveness and aggression, in an attempt to compensate for their either real or imagined deficiencies.