Doctor of Philosophy
Saklofske, Donald H.
Despite growing attention surrounding impostor phenomenon (also known as “imposter syndrome”), recent reviews have suggested that current measures may be inadequate in capturing the complex and multifaceted nature of this construct (i.e., thoughts, feelings, and behaviours). The objective of my dissertation research program was to clarify the theoretical conceptualization of impostor phenomenon based on experiences in an achievement-oriented setting, and to develop a novel and psychometrically valid method of measuring this construct. I began by conducting an extensive review of the literature and developing an item pool for a novel impostor phenomenon assessment. I then conducted exploratory factor analyses (Study 1) and confirmatory factor analyses (Study 2) to assess the initial item pool and to determine the factor structure and initial psychometric properties (e.g., convergent and divergent validity) of the novel Impostor Phenomenon Assessment (IPA; Study 2 and 3). As an extension to Study 3, I also examined the longitudinal stability of impostor phenomenon and correlates with trait variables and psychological distress across the academic year (baseline and six follow-up timepoints). Results suggested excellent psychometric properties for the novel IPA. Longitudinal findings demonstrated that impostor phenomenon was relatively stable in individuals over time, with intercepts significantly varying as a function of gender and academic year. Model findings for impostor phenomenon showed that self-esteem, self-critical perfectionism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and rigid perfectionism were significant predictors. Additionally, cross-lagged panel analyses suggested partial support for a causal effect of impostor phenomenon on psychological distress across time. These findings offer preliminary evidence for the reliability and validity of the IPA as a novel measure of impostor phenomenon and are the first to examine the stability of impostor phenomenon in individuals over time.
Summary for Lay Audience
With growing attention towards the impostor phenomenon (also known as “imposter syndrome”), current methods of assessing and identifying this experience are inconsistent and miss out on many of the key characteristics of what it means to “feel like an impostor”. The objective of my dissertation research program was to clarify the understanding of this construct (i.e., what does impostor phenomenon involve?), and to develop a new and comprehensive way of assessing for the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours associated with impostor phenomenon. I was also interested in examining how impostor phenomenon changes across the academic year (i.e., does it ebb and flow through periods of higher stress – e.g., exams?). I began by developing a list of items for further review, and then conducted factor analyses to assess the initial items. I then assessed the factor structure and validity of the new Impostor Phenomenon Assessment (IPA) across three studies. As an extension to this research, I also examined the validity of impostor phenomenon and associations with self-esteem, personality, perfectionism, and psychological distress in students over time (i.e., the academic year). The findings of my dissertation offer preliminary evidence for the reliability and validity of the IPA as a novel measure of impostor phenomenon and are the first to examine the longer-term stability of impostor phenomenon over the course of an academic year.
Walker, Deanna L., "The Initial Development, Factor Structure, and Psychometric Validation of the Impostor Phenomenon Assessment (IPA): A Novel Assessment of Impostor Phenomenon" (2022). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8767.