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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.

Broader Problems:
Narrower Problems:
Related UN Sustainable Development Goals:
GOAL 1: No PovertyGOAL 3: Good Health and Well-beingGOAL 10: Reduced Inequality
Problem Type:
B: Basic universal problems
Date of last update
05.11.2019 – 17:53 CET