We would say that most people have exhibited this characteristic trait at some time or another, and sometimes frequently, depending on the individual and their circumstances. Here again, the motivation is more to protect the self from shame and humiliation than to gain power and control over others when one is not truly worthy or deserving of that power and responsibility if they are not truly knowledgeable and prepared and capable in all other respects. So the issue once again is what one feels necessary to protect the self from being put on the spot and then criticized, judged, and perhaps even subjected to discrimination, a punishment of some kind to lose favor, be excluded through loss of confidence in their services or judgment, or perhaps to be weeded out of an organization if it comes to be seen that they are a weak link. This behooves everyone to at times put on airs, to look like they are in the know even if they may not be, and this invites also developing an exaggerated opinion of the self and one’s capabilities. It becomes a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy that one can handle anything and has a command of knowledge equal to any task that is demanded of them when such may not truly be the case. Those revelations can then be shattering to the self-image—all the more reason to forestall such an occurrence by sidestepping responsibility and feigning competence when there is doubt and uncertainty to try to get by without it being noticed that one is on shaky ground in some respects.
So this is a prescription for an imperfect world where people will not be motivated to truly work to fill the gaps and develop deeper understanding and knowledge. After all, to do so might require asking for help and admitting one’s shortcomings, so there are many ways in which this kind of thinking becomes a pattern and a mode of operation that is just second nature. It will indeed carry penalties because it will demand living with a certain amount of stress, and that can take a toll over time as well. There are many circumstances where this is a very typical situation and struggle for almost everyone involved. One example being the catchphrase, “never let them see you sweat,” and this implies that showing weakness could be a person’s undoing, and of course this traps the individual in an impossible situation where they are, in the end, isolated and alone and have only their own resources to work with and it might not be enough to bridge a gap in learning or understanding necessary for them to function well in a certain setting. But if there are people around them they cannot trust, they may have to “fake it until they make it,” to give an example of another catchphrase about this dilemma. All of this maladaptive behavior is a reflection of a dysfunctional society one is a part of and the damage to the self from being in a situation where you are uncomfortable about being accepted and therefore at risk.