Unmasking the Impostor Phenomenon


Imposter phenomenon has been described as an “internal experience of intellectual phoniness” (Matthews & Clance, 1985, p.71). It is linked to anxiety, depression, perfectionism, personality traits, self-esteem, self-handicapping. It could be linked to job performance, turnover, cultural factors, gender perceptions, self-presentation, fear of failure/success.

Research goals include:

  • Examine the factor structure of the IP in relation to personality traits, cognitive ability, self-confidence and self-handicapping
  • Investigate the nature of the IP in performance appraisals and self-presentation strategies within the workplace
  • Investigate the role of the IP in the fear of failure or success in work-related tasks

Several experiments will be carried out with participants – ideally current employees. Participants will complete questionnaires (e.g. impostor phenomenon, personality traits, self-handicapping) and objective measures of the psychological constructs of interest (e.g. cognitive/metacognitive ability, job performance). Robust experimental manipulations will also be used to elicit constructs such as fear of failure and performance appraisals. Data will be examined utilising descriptive, correlational and factor analysis. Structural equation modelling will also be used.

Karina Mak
Supervisor: Dr Sabina Kleitman

Image credit: lampa | dup eye by Juan Cabrera via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic licence.