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"Fake it till you make it" (also called "act as if") is a common catchphrase that means to imitate confidence so that as the confidence produces success, it will generate real confidence[1]. The purpose is to avoid getting stuck in a self fulfilling prophecy related to one's fear of not being confident, e.g., by thinking, "I can't ask that girl out because she would sense my lack of confidence." The article How You Too Can Be an Optimist in Prevention points out, "In research at Wake Forest University, for example, scientists asked a group of 50 students to act like extroverts for 15 minutes in a group discussion, even if they didn’t feel like it. The more assertive and energetic the students acted, the happier they were"[2].

It is often recommended as a therapy technique for combating depression. In this case, the idea is to go through the routines of life as if one were enjoying them, despite the fact that initially it feels forced, and continue doing this until the happiness becomes real[3]. This is an example of a positive feedback loop.

It is a common device in rap music, where performers will often make records and music videos depicting them as successful, handling large amounts of cash and showing off obvious signs of luxury like expensive clothing and excessive jewelry, even when this record or video is their first release and made when they have not yet achieved the success they display.

The phrase is often associated with Alcoholics Anonymous. AA to Z; An Addictionary of the 12-Step Culture describes it as a "suggestion often made to NEWCOMERS who feel they can't get the program and will go back to old behavior. The suggestion implies that if the newcomer acts according to the steps and teachings of the program, then the program will begin to work and the anxiety will fall away"[4].

References

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