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The impostor phenomenon in British university students: Relationships between self-esteem,...

C. Sonnak, T. Towell


The impostor phenomenon in British university students: Relationships between self-esteem, mental health, parental rearing style and socioeconomic status


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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Personality and individual differences. – 2001. – Vol. 31, № 6. – P. 863–874.

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