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Students' recollections of parenting styles and impostor phenomenon: The mediating role of social anxiety ☆

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https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1cIY9heKdkDIr (full text) Clance and Imes (1978) introduced a phenomenon regarding individuals who tend to experience intellectual phoniness and covert perceived inadequacy, which they termed impostor phenomenon. The current study aims to investigate the relationship between the impostor phenomenon and social anxiety in adult students, while inspecting the latter variable's mediating role in the relationship between students' recollections of their parents' parenting styles and their current impostor expressions. The study comprised 247 students, 185 females and 62 males (Mage = 28.27, SD = 8.22), who completed online forms of the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI), the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS), and the Social Phobia Inventory (SPIN). The participants' social anxiety was positively correlated (at medium to strong size) with their impostor expressions. Perceived parental care was indirectly associated with the students' impostor expressions through social anxiety for mothers and fathers, meaning that the sample's students who perceived their parents as less caring exhibited greater impostor expressions because they were more socially anxious. Also, perceived paternal overprotection was associated with the students' impostor expressions through social anxiety. Namely, students who perceived their fathers as more overprotective had greater impostor expressions because they were more socially anxious. The etiological significances and applied implications of these findings are discussed.

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... Depression and anxiety also seem to be inherently related to the impostor phenomenon, as they are frequently found to be comorbid with impostor feelings among adult subjects (Bravata et al., 2020). Although these emotional problems are often assumed to underlie and intensify impostor feelings in youngsters and adults (Bernard et al., 2002;Yaffe, 2021), it is still unclear whether the impostor phenomenon is caused by these factors, affects them, or whether they are simply commonly co-occurring (Urwin, 2018). ...
... This body of studies generally accords with the view that parental behaviors and parent-child relations during childhood influence later feelings of impostorism. However, the trajectories in which the parental factor affects and elicits impostor feelings, its joint effects with other important antecedents, and the overall size of the parental effect are yet to be elucidated (Yaffe, 2021). ...
... In other words, the psychological variables were, for the most part, more significant predictors of impostor scores than parenting styles. Hence, while the conjoint prediction of the impostor scores was considerable (ranging from 15% to 50% in these studies), the unique contributions of the parental variables when considered simultaneously with socio-psychological variables, were relatively marginal or even insignificant (e.g., Sonnak & Towell, 2001;Want & Kleitman, 2006;Yaffe, 2020bYaffe, , 2021. In Yaffe's studies specifically, the paternal and maternal styles were found to be linked with the impostor phenomenon mainly indirectly through other psychological variables (i.e., self-esteem and social anxiety). ...
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This systematic review work integrates the findings from studies conducted between 1991 and 2021 on the association between familial and parental factors and the impostor phenomenon, in an attempt to deepen the comprehension of the phenomenon’s etiology. All four forms of familial/parental factors identified in these studies (i.e., parental rearing styles and behaviors, attachment styles, maladaptive parenting and parent-child relations, and familial achievement orientation) were generally found to be moderately correlated with the impostor phenomenon. The prominent group of studies deals with the link between parental rearing styles as an explaining variable, with 7 studies showing somewhat consistent associations between parental (low) care and over-control and an offspring’s impostor feelings. However, when considered simultaneously, the parental variables are shown to be less predictive of impostor scores than some psychological variables such as self-esteem.
... Current explanatory approaches for the etiology of the IP focus mainly on the parental style and the child's relationship with their parents. Parentification, as the reversed roles of parents and children (Castro et al., 2004), parental overprotection (Sonnak & Towell, 2001), and social anxiety (Yaffe, 2021), are well-studied IP predictors. ...
... Furthermore, the model should be tested with a sample of high-achiever since a stable attribution of negative outcomes is only associated with higher performance among high-achievers (Houston, 2016). In addition, follow-up studies could examine possible model extensions like the parental rearing styles and established mediators such as self-esteem (Yaffe, 2020) and social anxiety (Yaffe, 2021). Future studies should also examine the emergence of learned helplessness, primarily whether it is influenced by non-contingent success feedback. ...
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The learned helplessness model of the Impostor Phenomenon is an exploratory approach to explain the Impostor Phenomenon by linking the constructs of growth mindset, learned helplessness, grit, thought-action fusion, and defensive pessimism. In this study, we (a) confirmatorily tested the factor structure of the English IPP30, (b) examined the instrument's nomological validity, and (c) exploratorily formulated a path model to explain the effects of learned helplessness on the Impostor Phenomenon. The sample consisted of n = 376 persons (46% female). The CFI indicated the bifactorial model of the English IPP30 as best-fitting, while the subscale correlations suggested the instrument's nomological validity. The exploratory path model showed sufficient goodness of fit. It proclaims a labeling as talented that decreases the growth mindset expression, which negatively correlates with learned helplessness. In addition, the model states learned helplessness as a central model component associated with grit, thought-action fusion, and finally, the Impostor Phenomenon.
... We used the so-called Enter method because, based on previous studies, we could pre-determine the variables associated with the IS of doctoral students (Nummenmaa, 2021). According to the literature (Craddock et al., 2011;Sonnak & Towell, 2001;Thompson et al., 1998;Yaffe, 2021), the following background variables of students have an impact on impostor feelings: gender, age, home resources, parenting styles, academic success, and level of planning (LoP) before applying for doctoral studies (Table 2). ...
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Impostor syndrome (IS) refers to the inner speech of self-doubt and the belief that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. The university can be considered a work environment prone to IS, especially because of the requirements of present higher education and science policy, which emphasizes continuous evaluation, a competitive spirit, and a focus on performance and excellence. It is therefore understandable that many doctoral students have begun to experience inadequacy and uncertainty during their postgraduate studies. This study focuses on the prevalence of IS among Finnish PhD students (n = 1694). In particular, attention is paid to the background factors in which experiences of uncertainty and attitudes related to IS are linked. Theoretically, we interpret IS as a phenomenon related to the habitus formed through an individual’s life experiences and the inner speech associated with it. Based on the results of the linear regression analysis, the lack of encouragement in childhood and a low level of planning when applying for doctoral studies explain the emergence of IS in a statistically significant manner.
... A large body of research has demonstrated that parenting characteristics such as overprotection (Yaffe, 2021), harsh punitive control (Chubar et al., 2020), intrusive and manipulative control (Gómez-Ortiz et al., 2019), lower autonomy support (Nelemans et al., 2020), rejection (Smout et al., 2019) are also associated with social anxiety. Longitudinal studies have demonstrated that parenting behavior has an impact on the emotion regulation strategies that children with behavioral inhibition use, which in turn contributes to social anxiety outcomes (Suarez et al., 2021). ...
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Some family medicine residents often doubt their ability to become competent family physicians. Individuals who believe themselves to be less intelligent and less competent than others perceive them to be are described in the psychological literature as having the "impostor phenomenon." This study sought to determine the prevalence of the impostor phenomenon in family medicine residents. We conducted a mail survey of all 255 family medicine residents in Wisconsin. The survey included the Clance Imposter Scale and two scales measuring depression and anxiety. A total of 185 surveys were returned, for a 73% response rate. Forty-one percent of women and 24% of men scored as "impostors." Impostor symptoms were highly correlated with depression and anxiety. About one third of family medicine residents believe they are less intelligent and less competent than others perceive them to be. These residents suffer psychological distress and do not believe they will be ready to practice family medicine after graduation. Teachers may assist these learners by letting them know such feelings are common and by providing regular, timely, and positive feedback.
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The study investigates the links between maternal and paternal parenting styles and the imposter syndrome among adult female students, while probing the meditative role played by self-esteem in this context. The sample comprised 182 female students (Mage = 27.85, SD = 7.25) who completed the Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI), the Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS), and the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale (RSES). The results of the analyses of the regressions models using SEM revealed that parental care is associated with students’ lower imposter feelings via self-esteem, and paternal overprotection is associated with students’ higher imposter feelings via self-esteem. Hence, parental care and overprotection may be related to female students’ imposter feelings since they increase and decrease (respectively) their self-esteem which, in turn, affects their imposter feelings. The current study is among the first to demonstrate the mediation role played by self-esteem in the association in question separately for mothers and fathers, which contributes to facilitating the understanding of the etiology mechanism of the imposter phenomenon.
Article
Purpose This study aims to explore different themes related to impostor phenomenon, as experienced by graduate students and postdocs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields. Design/methodology/approach Open-ended survey responses from 120 US-based participants from 40 states and Washington, D.C., describing an occasion when they felt like an impostor, were analyzed thematically. Findings Following content analysis, three themes emerged: occurrence, attribution and identity. While impostor-like feelings were experienced as early as high school or college, the majority experienced it during PhD application, on being admitted to a PhD program and throughout PhD training. The people experiencing impostor phenomenon attributed their achievements and success to others (other’s name, prestige, or connections, other’s mistake, other’s lies or misrepresentation, or other’s kindness) or self (self-inadequacy, pretense, luck or self-doubt) rather than their own hard work or ability. Gender-based and race/ethnicity-based identity also shaped the experiences of the impostor phenomenon. Research limitations/implications Open-ended survey responses varied in length and level of detail. Responses provided a one-time snapshot of a memory related to impostor-feelings that stood out, not indicating if the feeling persisted or evolved with time. The findings are not generalizable over a larger population. Originality/value This study identified multiple themes related to the impostor phenomenon not investigated before, enriching existing research while also providing methodological rigor for the development of follow-up studies.
Article
Imposter syndrome is feeling incompetent despite evidence of competence. It is characterized by the inability to internalize one's status and success, which causes much emotional distress. People with imposter syndrome fear that others will eventually find out that they are frauds and thus feel that they do not belong in their academic or working environment despite objective qualifications, achievements, and accomplishments. Perfectionism has been linked to imposter syndrome due to a tendency to focus on one's inadequacies. In this study, participants were 169 Russian college students. Mediating and moderating effects of imposter syndrome on the link between perfectionism and psychological distress were examined. Results indicated that imposter syndrome fully mediated the link between perfectionism and anxiety, whereas it served as a partial mediator between perfectionism and depression. A significant moderation effect of imposter syndrome was found between the link of perfectionism and depressive mood. In sum, it appears that if a person does not fall into the imposter mindset, the positive link between perfectionistic discrepancy and depression no longer exists. Results of this study identify imposter syndrome as a point of intervention to prevent depression caused by perfectionism.
Article
Imposter phenomena (IP) is when an individual experiences unwarranted feelings of inadequacy in relation to their own abilities. Often linked to self-efficacy, individuals who experience IP doubt their own skills and attribute their successes to luck as opposed to themselves. Whilst this has been studied in relation to a number of fields, IP has not been considered in relation to social work. This article investigates the prevalence of IP amongst a small sample of currently practising social workers (fifty-nine) and utilises a survey approach to assess levels of IP. This data were explored in relation to levels of experience. From the sample, it appears that IP is more frequently occurring amongst social workers than would be expected and IP experiences are less frequent with increased levels of experience. This article considers the impact of IP upon practitioners and makes suggestions for further work.
Article
The Impostor Phenomenon (IP) is characterized by external attribution of success, feelings of inadequacy, and a fear of being exposed as intellectual fraud. The most frequently used and psychometrically sound IP measure is the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) whose German version has not been validated yet. The aim of this study was to examine the psychometric properties and validity of the German CIPS. In two independent samples (N = 151; 149), analyses yielded good reliability (α = .87; .89) and item-total correlations (.47; .51). Robust correlations to IP-related variables (depression, fear of negative evaluation, attributional style, locus of control, and self-esteem) supported the nomological validity. Partial correlation analysis controlling for depression revealed a unique attributional style for IP-high scorer which manifests in external-instable attributions concerning success. In line with previous findings, an exploratory factor analysis (Sample 1) yielded three factors (Fake, Luck, and Discount), which accounted for 44% of variance. Confirmatory factor analyses (Sample 2) supported this 3-factor-model. The diagnostic application of the German CIPS is encouraged.
Article
High anxiety levels have been associated with high levels of the imposter phenomenon (IP), a negative experience of feeling like a fraud. This study was designed to explore IP among graduate students and to determine whether a difference exists between online graduate students and traditional graduate students. The theoretical foundation of this study was social influence, which holds that students may feel pressured in a traditional setting because of the social cues of peers and instructors, as well as institutional norms. This quantitative study used a between-subjects design to compare 2 independent samples (115 online students & 105 traditional students). The study used a cross-sectional survey design, with 4 different measures: the Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale, the Zung Self-Rating Anxiety Scale, the Perfectionistic Self-Presentation Scale, and a basic demographic survey. Results indicated that traditional graduate students had significantly higher IP scores than online graduate students. Results also indicated a significant, positive relationship between IP scores and anxiety scores. Regression analysis indicated that perfectionism was the most influential predictor of IP scores, followed by anxiety and program type. Because the scale used in this study explored socially prescribed perfectionism, the results appear to suggest an underlying social component to IP.
Article
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to examine the moderated-mediational relationship between the impostor phenomenon (IP) and work-to-family conflict (WFC). Building on conservation of resources (COR) theory, the authors hypothesize that individuals who experience the IP lack the initial resources needed to meet work demands and, thus, experience emotional exhaustion, which leads to WFC. However, the authors hypothesize that additional resources provided by organizations, such as perceived organizational support (POS), may weaken the negative experiences of imposters. Design/methodology/approach – The authors tested a moderated-mediation model using data from a time-lagged survey study among 92 Midwest community college employees. Regression was used to examine the mediating effects of emotional exhaustion and the moderating effect of POS on the IP to WFC relationship. Findings – Results support the hypothesized model. Emotional exhaustion is a mediating mechanism in the relationship between the IP and WFC. POS is a moderator of this indirect relationship; the indirect relationship between the IP and WFC through emotional exhaustion is weaker when employees perceive high levels of POS. Practical/implications – The findings suggest that there are detrimental long-term effects associated with the IP for organizations. Thus, managers should curb feelings of impostorism within their organizations and provide impostors with organizational support in order to reduce their emotional exhaustion and WFC. Originality/value – The present study indicates that individual dispositions play an indirect role in WFC. Furthermore, the authors identify organizational outcomes associated with the IP, whereas previous research has rarely emphasized outcomes.
Article
This article provides a methodology for mapping an individual's system of social relationships. Three examples of network maps which vary in complexity have been selected to represent the most common issues discussed by over 90 African American professional women during an eight year period. Excerpts from their explanations of these "maps" are used to identify issues pertinent to the social structure and adult development issues of this group. Implications for clinical practitioners working with African American women of professional status are discussed.
Article
Impostors are outwardly successful individuals who experience secret intense feelings of fraudulence in achievement situations. Elements of perfectionism are evident in a tendency on the part of impostors to maintain high standards for personal evaluation while being critical of their inability to realise these standards. This study utilised a 2 (impostor status: high, low)×2 (task type: high vs. low frequency of mistakes) between-subjects factorial design to investigate the connection between impostor fears and perfectionistic concern over mistakes. Sixty undergraduate students completed either a high or low frequency of mistake Stroop Colour-Word task, following which they completed items assessing perceptions of their performance, concern over mistakes, perceptions of control and anxiety, the Positive and Negative Affect Scale and the Russell Causal Dimension Scale. Links with perfectionistic concern over mistakes and anxiety were strongly supported, with impostors reporting less control, greater anxiety, more negative affect and greater concern over mistakes than non-impostors irrespective of experimental condition. The roles of anxiety and perfectionist cognitions in the maintenance of impostor fears are discussed.
Article
The term "impostor phenomenon" is used to designate an internal experience of intellectual phoniness that appears to be particularly prevalent and intense among a select sample of high achieving women. Certain early family dynamics and later introjection of societal sex-role stereotyping appear to contribute significantly to the development of the impostor phenomenon. Despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the impostor phenomenon persist in believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise. Numerous achievements, which one might expect to provide ample objective evidence of superior intellectual functioning, do not appear to affect the impostor belief. Four factors that contribute to the maintenance of impostor feelings over time are explored. Therapeutic approaches found to be effective in helping women change the impostor self-concept are described. (7 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
This study examined parental rearing styles and objective confidence in relation to impostor phenome-non (feelings of phoniness experienced by individuals who have achieved some level of success, Clance & Imes, 1978) and self-handicapping tendencies (creation of an impediment to performance as an excuse for possible failure, Jones & Berglas, 1978). Participants (N = 115) completed measures of impostorism, self-handicapping, parental bonding (for each parent) and Esoteric Analogies test with confidence judg-ments. Impostor feelings were predicted by paternal overprotection and lack of paternal care. Self-handi-capping scores were predicted by lack of maternal care. A significant relationship was found between impostorism and self-handicapping. Supporting the nature of the impostor phenomenon, impostors showed a ''gap'' between assessment of their performance and actual task-related achievements.
Article
Two new scales of parental care and overprotection, and their combination as a Parental Bonding Instrument, are described. On measurements of reliability and validity the scales appear to be acceptable, and are independent of the parent's sex. It would appear that mothers are perceived as significantly more caring and slightly more overprotective than fathers, but that those judgements are not influenced by the sex of the child. Overprotection appears to be associated with lack of care. The scales and scoring method are appended. Norms for a general Sydney population are presented, and the possible influence of age, sex and social class examined.
Article
The present study examined the differences in internal and external locus of control and imposter phenomenon among persons with alcoholic and non-alcoholic parents. The subjects were 48 college students and 21 members of local Adult Children of Alcoholic groups. The students were further divided into those with alcoholic parents and non-alcoholic parents. The subjects were administered the following three instruments: the Nowicki-Strickland Internal-External Control Scale for Adults (Nowicki & Duke, 1973), the Imposter Test (Chance & O’Toole, 1987), and a family history survey. Analysis of locus of control scores revealed a highly significant (p<.01) difference for externality, with Adult Children being most external and students with non-alcoholic parents least external. Similarly, internality scores differed significantly (p<.0001), with Adult Children being least, and the non-alcoholic group being most internally oriented. Analysis of variance for imposter phenomenon revealed a significant (p<.05) difference among the three groups, with the Adult Children of Alcoholics group having the highest scores and students with non-alcoholic parents having the lowest. These findings are consistent with the idea that parental alcoholism interferes with nurturing and consistent reinforcement, and with the development of personal adaptability.
Article
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.
Article
This investigation consists of two studies designed to examine perceived fraudulence, its measurement, and the personality traits associated with the experience in young adults. For Study 1, the Perceived Fraudulence Scale (PFS), a new measure constructed for this study, was administered to a sample of 50 college undergraduates, along with several other self-report measures; a semistructured interview and thought-listing exercise were added to provide convergent assessments of perceived fraudulence. Correlational patterns and regression analyses supported the investigators' conceptualization of perceived fraudulence as involving a combination of fraudulent ideation, depressive tendencies, self-criticism, social anxiety, achievement pressures, and self-monitoring skills. Study 2, in which 100 college undergraduates completed several personality questionnaires, replicated the factor structure of the PFS and provided some evidence for the discriminant validity of the construct of perceived fraudulence.
Article
In the present paper, I critique the use of the retrospective method when it is used as a proxy for actual longitudinal data on personality development. Studies on the constructive nature of memory cast strong doubts about the meaning of retrospective data. There are good reasons, both theoretical and empirical, to distrust the accuracy of such recall concerning parenting, whether recalled by parents, children, or siblings. Instead of using the method as a shortcut to developmental data, studies examining individual differences in accuracy and distortion and the factors that moderate them may inform us of the various meanings of retrospective data.
Article
The purpose of this study was to relate the impostor phenomenon (IP) to the Five-factor model of personality. A sample of 190 college students (79 men, 111 women) completed the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (Clance, 1985), the Perceived Fradulence Scale (Kolligian & Sternberg, 1991), and the NEO-Personality Inventory-Revised (Costa & McCrae, 1992). Results of correlational and regression analyses support the predicted relations of imposter measures with high Neuroticism and low Conscientiousness. Facet-level correlations showed that depression and anxiety were particularly important characteristics of those with imposter feelings as well as low self-discipline and perceived competence. Implications for treatment and future research on the IP are discussed.
Article
Personality traits, self-perceptions, beliefs, and feelings that accompany the Imposter Phenomenon (IP) have been identified in adults but little research with adolescents has been reported. The present research describes data from a sample of 11th and 12th graders in order to examine predictors of IP among adolescents. The participants completed measures of the IP, global self-worth, social support and self-concept. Gender differences were found in correlations between IP and Parent Support, Classmate Support, and Teacher Support. Multiple regression analyses found significant predictors of IP scores for females to be Friend Support, Classmate Support and Dependability. Only Friend Support significantly predicted IP scores for males. The unique variance explained (UVE) by each of the variables was fairly modest, suggesting that the variables are explaining a considerable amount of the same portion of the variance, particularly for females.
Article
The Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS; Clance, 1985) was compared to the newly developed Perceived Fraudulence Scale (Kolligian & Sternberg, 1991). The two scales were found to have high internal consistency and to correlate in a similar manner with other measures. Further, discriminant validity evidence for the Impostor Phenomenon (IP) was provided by comparing the CIPS to measures of depression, self-esteem, social anxiety, and self-monitoring. The IP was related to, but substantially discriminable from, these constructs. Finally, construct validity evidence for the CIPS was provided through principal components analysis that yielded three stable factors: Fake, Discount, and Luck.
Impostor phenomenon in an interpersonal/social context: Origins and treatment
  • P R Clance
  • D Dingman
  • S L Reviere
  • D R Strober
Clance, P. R., Dingman, D., Reviere, S. L., & Strober, D. R. (1995). Impostor phenomenon in an interpersonal/social context: Origins and treatment. Women & Therapy, 16, 79-96.
A practical guide to data analysis
  • P I Good
Good, P. I. (1999). A practical guide to data analysis. In resampling methods (pp. 199-207). Boston, MA: Birkhauser.