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The impostor phenomenon and social mobility: You can't go home again.

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... The impostor phenomenon was originally thought to be more prevalent among females (Clance & Imes, 1978). However, most research has failed to reveal significant differences in the degree to which females and males experience impostor feelings (Bussotti, 1990; Casselman, 1992; Chae, Piedmont, Estadt, & Wicks, 1995; Dingman, 1987; Fried-Buchalter, 1997; Imes, 1979; Langford, 1990; Sonnak & Towell, 2001). Several authors have examined the relationship between the impostor phenomenon and various psychological traits and personality features. ...
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This article examines the hypothesis that individuals who were parentified as children are more likely to report impostor feelings in adulthood. A sample of 213 graduate students were given the Parentification Questionnaire (Sessions & Jurkovic, 198636. Sessions , M. W. 1986 . Influence of parentification on professional role choice and interpersonal style . Dissertation Abstracts International , 47 : 5066 View all references) and Clance's Impostor Phenomenon Scale (Clance, 198512. Clance , P. R. 1985 . The impostor phenomenon: Overcoming the fear that haunts your success , Atlanta, GA : Peachtree Publishers . View all references). Results indicated that parentification and the impostor phenomenon are moderately correlated (r = .37). No significant gender differences were found for either construct. With regard to racial/ethnic differences, no significant differences were found in parentification scores; however, Caucasians endorsed significantly higher impostor phenomenon scores than African Americans. The results suggest that the impostor phenomenon can be explained, in part, as a significant long-term effect of childhood parentification.
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The purpose of this study was to develop a State Impostor Phenomenon Scale (SIPS). Participants (344 graduate and undergraduate students) were asked to complete the SIPS, the State Self-Esteem Scale, and the State-Trait Anxiety Scale in three situations, followed by the Trait Self-Esteem Scale. Results showed that the SIPS had stable factor structure, and adequate reliability. In addition, the predicted correlational patterns among the scales demonstrated the construct validity of the SIPS. Moreover, the SIPS was responsive to different situations, as evidenced by significant differences between the scores in the three situations.
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The role of perceived parental rearing style, parental background, self-esteem, mental health and demographic variables upon impostor phenomenon [IP; Psychotherapy: Theory Research and Practice, 15, (1978) 241–247] intensity was investigated using a cross-sectional survey design, with 107 subjects (78 females, 29 males). A regression analysis revealed that both greater degree of perceived parental control and lower levels of self-esteem emerged as significant predictors of impostor fears, together accounting for 50% of the variation in impostor scores. Parental care score, parental educational and occupational level and subject's mental health and demographic information did not show a significant relationship to impostor scores. A post-hoc regression analysis indicated, however, that in addition to parental protection, lower care and poorer mental health was significantly related to increasing levels of impostor scores and with subjects having attended private school reporting lower levels of impostor feelings. In addition, subjects classified as impostors were found to report significantly higher GHQ scores (poorer mental health) than non-impostors. These findings, which are interpreted in terms of parenting styles, indicate that the role of parental overprotection may be especially implicated in impostor fears.
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Individuals who suffer from impostor fears harbour secret intense feelings of fraudulence in the face of achievement tasks and situations. This study investigated affective and attributional reactions of impostors following success and failure feedback. N = 164 undergraduate students were presented with a vignette depicting either hypothetical success or failure outcomes in a 2 (feedback: success, fail) × 2 (impostor fears: high low) between-subjects factorial design. Participants then responded to post-vignette items which assessed their cognitive, attributional and affective reactions, and completed several personality measures including the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale [Clance P. R. (1985). The impostor phenomenon: Overcoming the fear that haunts your success. Atlanta: Peachtree Publishers]. Elements of perfectionism were evident in a propensity on the part of students with high impostor scores to externalise success and hold high standards for self-evaluation, while being intolerant of their failure to meet these standards. Impostors' greater reporting of negative emotions, together with their tendency to attribute failure internally and overgeneralise a single failure to their overall self-concepts underscore the veracity of clinical observations which suggest links between impostor fears, anxiety, and depression. These findings are important to an understanding of the dynamics and treatment of impostor fears.
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