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Imposter fears : some hypothesised antecedents and consequences


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Sakulku, J 2009 , 'Imposter fears : some hypothesised antecedents and consequences', DPsych(Clin) thesis, University of Tasmania.

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The Impostor Phenomenon was identified from clinical observations during therapeutic sessions with high achieving women by Dr Pauline Clance. Despite objective evidence of success, these women had a pervasive psychological experience, believing that they were intellectual frauds and feared being recognised as impostors. They suffered from anxiety, fear of failure and dissatisfaction with life. Previous research has suggested that family achievement values and perfectionism may lead to the related trait, Impostorism.

This thesis examined the contributions of mixed messages about achievement from family and perfectionism as hypothesised antecedents of Impostorism and coping styles and psychological distress (measured by anxiety, somatisation, and depression) as hypothesised consequences. Complete data was obtained from 354 students from the University of Tasmania. Participants completed the Mixed Messages about Achievement from Family Scale (MMAS), the Multidimensional Perfectionism Scale, the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS), the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations, and the Anxiety, Somatisation, and Depression subscales of the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised. Exploratory Factor Analysis was used to refine the MMAS and the CIPS.

Structural Equation Modelling was used to test the hypothesised antecedents and consequences models of Impostorism. The analyses for antecedents of Impostorism found that MMAS and Socially Prescribed Perfectionism were moderately correlated with Impostorism, while Self-Oriented Perfectionism was less related. Other-Oriented Perfectionism had little relationship with Impostorism, suggesting Impostorism relates to specific types of perfectionism rather than general perfectionism. The final Antecedents model of Impostorism, including Mixed Messages from Family, Socially Prescribed Perfectionism, and Self-Oriented Perfectionism, was a good fit and accounted for 46% of the variance in Impostorism.

The analysis of consequences of lmpostorism found that Emotion- Focussed Coping was most strongly correlated with Impostorism, with the other coping styles negligibly related. Anxiety, Somatisation, and Depression were also correlated with Impostorism and treated as indices of Psychological Distress. The final Consequences model of lmpostorism including Emotion-Focussed Coping largely mediating the prediction of Psychological Distress, was a reasonable fit and could account for 40% of the variance in Psychological Distress.

The Antecedents and Consequences model of Impostorism were combined and generated two alternative models. In Model 1 Impostorism entirely mediated the relationship between hypothesied antecedents and consequences. In Model 2 Emotion-Focussed Coping fully mediated the relationship between Impostorism and Psychological Distress if a path from Socially Prescribed Perfectionism to Emotion-Focussed Coping was allowed.

Overall, the findings suggested that Impostorism is a valuable construct, possibly mediating the relationship between self-imposed and socially attributed perfectionism and psychological distress, as well as suggesting that emotion focussed coping may be a critical consequence of Impostorism leading to Psychological Distress.

Item Type: Thesis - DPsych(Clin)
Authors/Creators:Sakulku, J
Keywords: Impostor phenomenon, Fear of failure, Distress (Psychology)
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Copyright 2009 the author

Additional Information:

Not available for copying until 10 July 2011. Thesis (DPsych (Clin))--University of Tasmania, 2009. Includes bibliographical references

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