Feeling Versus Acting Like an Impostor: Real Feelings of Fraudulence or Self-Presentation?

McElwee, Rory O'Brien; Yurak, Tricia J.
September 2007
Individual Differences Research;Sep2007, Vol. 5 Issue 3, p201
Academic Journal
In the Impostor Phenomenon, people experience feelings of inadequacy and fraudulence. Although theory predicts that impostors should report that others view them more positively than they view themselves, recent research has failed to support this hypothesis and suggests instead that impostorism may be used as a self-diminishing self-presentation strategy. In the present work, 253 students completed questionnaires including three measures of self- and reflected appraisals and several measures of affect and self-presentation. Results support previous research indicating that while impostors report feeling inadequate, they do not actually feel fraudulent: They do not believe that others view them more positively than they view themselves. Additionally, multidimensional scaling and correlational analyses investigate whether impostorism operates as a more controlled or automatic self-presentation strategy. Implications for conceptualizing and measuring the experience of impostorism are discussed.


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