Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971
Imposter phenomenon and self-handicapping: Links
with parenting styles and self-conﬁdence q
Julie Want, Sabina Kleitman *
School of Psychology, A18, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia
Received 2 August 2004; received in revised form 13 September 2005; accepted 6 October 2005
Available online 15 December 2005
This study examined parental rearing styles and objective conﬁdence in relation to impostor phenome-
non (feelings of phoniness experienced by individuals who have achieved some level of success, Clance &
Imes, 1978) and self-handicapping tendencies (creation of an impediment to performance as an excuse
for possible failure, Jones & Berglas, 1978). Participants (N = 115) completed measures of impostorism,
self-handicapping, parental bonding (for each parent) and Esoteric Analogies test with conﬁdence judg-
ments. Impostor feelings were predicted by paternal overprotection and lack of paternal care. Self-handi-
capping scores were predicted by lack of maternal care. A signiﬁcant relationship was found between
impostorism and self-handicapping. Supporting the nature of the impostor phenomenon, impostors
showed a ‘‘gap’’ between assessment of their performance and actual task-related achievements.
Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Imposter phenomenon; Self-handicapping; Parental styles; Self-conﬁdence
The study reported in this manuscript was conducted at the University of New England, Australia.
E-mail address: email@example.com (S. Kleitman).
0191-8869/$ - see front matter Ó 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
962 J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971
Based on clinical interviews with high achieving women, Clance and Imes (1978) suggested the
term Impostor Phenomenon (IP) to describe the intense feelings of intellectual phoniness experi-
enced by some of these women. They deﬁned impostors as people who believe that their success in
life is ‘‘fake’’ being due to luck, charm or extra hard work, hence they avoid situations where they
might be ‘‘found out’’. Self-handicapping (SH) is one strategy used to avoid negative evaluations,
providing for possible failure to be attributed to the handicap, rather than the person. A substan-
tial relationship is known to exist between IP and SH (e.g., Cowman & Ferrari, 2002; Ross, Stew-
art, Mugge, & Fultz, 2001), and the constructs appear to share several aﬀective components,
including low levels of self-conﬁdence. Current research as to the developmental antecedents of
IP and SH shows that parenting style may contribute to both constructs (e.g., Greaven, Santor,
Thompson, & Zuroﬀ, 2000; Sonnak & Towell, 2001).
2. The impostor phenomenon
The term ‘‘Impostor Phenomenon’’ (IP) was inspired by reports that despite objective evidence
of success, some people felt simply ‘‘phony’’, that they had managed to fool the people around
them (see Topping & Kimmel, 1985). Clance and Imes (1978) described symptoms such as depres-
sion, anxiety, lack of self-conﬁdence and frustration at an inability to meet self-imposed high stan-
dards (see also Thompson, Davis, & Davidson, 1998). Upon receiving an achievement-related
task, impostors tend to either overprepare or procrastinate in an eﬀort to avoid possible failure,
they then attribute their success to eﬀort or to luck, respectively. Symptoms are reported by males
and females in both clinical and non-clinical populations (Cozzarelli & Major, 1990).
There appear to be sound links between impostor tendencies and personality. Impostor feel-
ings have been shown to correlate with Neuroticism, Conscientiousness and Extraversion per-
sonality dimensions (e.g., Bernard, Dollinger, & Ramaniah, 2002; Chae, Piedmont, Estadt, &
Wicks, 1995; Ross et al., 2001). High Neuroticism and low Extraversion (as well as high Intro-
version) is a logical link with IP, while low levels of Conscientiousness may be explained by the
procrastination sometimes used in evaluative situations. Ross and Krukowski (2003) reported a
strong link between IP and maladaptive personality, such that IP was viewed as a maladaptive
personality style ‘‘which emphasizes a pervasive sense of inferiority, fear and self-deprecation’’
Feelings of anxiety (Topping & Kimmel, 1985), global negative aﬀect (Cozzarelli & Major,
1990; Thompson et al., 1998), and shame (Cowman & Ferrari, 2002) also have been found to cor-
relate with impostor feelings. Additionally, Langford and Clance (1993) note that impostor
behaviors result in an individual with an unstable sense of self-worth, who depends heavily on
the feedback of others in order to maintain their sense of self. With their intense fear of failure
impostors look for strategies to reduce the consequences of evaluative situations. Self-handicap-
ping is one such strategy.
J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971 963
Self-handicapping (SH) describes a group of behaviors which allow an individual to protect
their self-image (Jones & Berglas, 1978). It involves placing an obstacle in the path of an evalu-
ation, so that possible failure can be blamed on the obstacle (Kelley, 1971). For instance, the stu-
dent who does not study for an exam and performs well, is regarded as being all the more able
considering her lack of preparation. Conversely, poor performance can be discounted to lack
of preparation, rather than reﬂecting a lack of ability.
Jones and Berglas (1978) argue that the person most likely to use SH strategies is one with an
uncertain sense of self-worth, and this description bears strong resemblance to the precarious
sense of self described in the Impostor literature. Not surprisingly, empirical links have been re-
ported between the two constructs (rÕs are typically .50) (Cowman & Ferrari, 2002; Ross et al.,
4. Parenting styles and their links to IP and SH
One area which has received some research attention in both the impostor and self-handicap-
ping literature is parenting styles. Bowlby (1977) posits that a secure attachment between care-
giver and child in early childhood can serve as protection against many problems in adult life.
He suggested that a low degree of parental care results in weaker bonds between parent and child,
while secure attachment results in an increase in self-worth as an adult. Parker, Tupling, and
Brown (1979) theorize that most bonding-related parental behaviors can be described as part
of two dimensions, care/warmth as opposed to indiﬀerence and control/overprotection as
opposed to encouragement of autonomy.
Greater parental control/overprotection is reported to be related to higher impostor scores, and
lack of care/warmth to correlate with feelings of impostorism (Sonnak & Towell, 2001). These re-
sults were based on combined maternal/paternal scores, and the authors suggest that further stud-
ies be carried out using separate analyses for both parents. Similarly, Greaven et al. (2000) report
that maternal care and age are related to self-handicapping in adolescent girls (inversely and pos-
itively, respectively). This study, however, only assessed maternal parenting. Together, these stud-
ies provide initial support for parenting as a contributor to the development of IP and SH, and
suggest that a separate examination of maternal and paternal contributions is necessary.
There are strong theoretical reasons suggesting parenting style as a developmental antecedent
to IP and SH. In the original SH literature, Jones and Berglas (1978) describe the adult with a
shaky sense of self as having followed a developmental pathway involving ‘‘non-contingent suc-
cess’’. That is, the child is rewarded randomly and is unable to link performance with reward.
Such a person is described (coincidentally) as feeling like an ‘‘impostor or pretender—they did
not really deserve their rewards because they did not do anything to earn them’’ (p. 407). Jones
and Berglas (1978) also theorize that the growing child is unable to disentangle the feelings of
parental love from their achievements, and is never sure whether the love would still exist if they
were to fail.
964 J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971
In IP, a similar developmental process is apparent. The parent may view the child as a reﬂection
on themselves, and to avoid the possibility that the child might fail at something, the parent takes
over projects and tasks which the child is responsible for. The child then fails to develop a sense of
self-based on their own abilities. The individual feels they do not deserve aﬃrmation from other
people, since they did not earn it (Langford & Clance, 1993).
5. Self-conﬁdence and its link with IP and SH
A lack of conﬁdence in oneÕs own ability appears to be common to both IP and SH constructs.
There is a strong hypothetical link between impostor feelings and low conﬁdence in ability to rep-
licate success. In fact, a gap between assessments of oneÕs ability with task-related achievements is
at the heart of IP. Similarly, self-handicappers feel that they did not earn success. The link be-
tween oneÕs self-conﬁdence, and both IP and SH, has not thus far been researched.
In this study, self-conﬁdence is measured by objective conﬁdence judgments that follow the cog-
nitive act. This method is used within the knowledge calibration paradigm, a prominent paradigm
within the decision-making literature. The paradigm is concerned with conﬁdence ratings that
people assign to events (e.g., answers to questions, predictions) and their relation to the accuracy
of these events. People are typically given diverse cognitive tests, and then immediately after
responding to an item in a test, are instructed to give a rating indicating how conﬁdent they
are that their answer is correct. The level of conﬁdence is usually expressed in terms of percent-
ages, and the conﬁdence ratings for all items are averaged to give an overall conﬁdence score
(see Harvey, 1997 for review).
These conﬁdence judgments show high internal consistency (higher than .85) (see Stankov,
1999) and robust test–retest estimates (Jonsson & Allwood, 2003). Importantly, there are stable
individual diﬀerences in these judgments across diﬀerent items, cognitive tests and knowledge
domains (see Stankov, 1999 for review). That is, people who are more conﬁdent on one task,
relative to other people, tend to be more conﬁdent across other tasks as well. This stability is
reﬂected by the Self-conﬁdence factor that reliably emerges when factor analytic techniques are
employed (e.g., Jonsson & Allwood, 2003; Kleitman & Stankov, 2001; Stankov, 1999).
6. Broad aims
This study aims to investigate IP and SH constructs. The contribution of parental styles to the
development of both constructs will be examined, treating maternal and paternal parenting as sep-
arate variables. Age will be considered in relation to both constructs. This study also will attempt
to show a relationship between conﬁdence ratings, and both IP and SH. The eﬀect of parenting on
the general level of conﬁdence will also be assessed.
It is expected that a high degree of care/warmth will result in lower scores on impostorism and
self-handicapping scales. It is further expected that higher degrees of overprotection will result in
higher scores on both impostorism and self-handicapping scales. Lower conﬁdence ratings, but
not accuracy, are expected to be related to higher impostor scores and higher self-handicapping
scores. At this stage, it is unclear what parental style if any will impact on the general level of con-
J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971 965
ﬁdence. In line with earlier studies, there is expected to be a substantial relationship between
impostor and self-handicapping measures.
A total of 115 people (43 males; Mean age = 38.54, SD = 9.39) participated in this study. The
sample comprised a wide range of occupations, including doctors, solicitors, business executives,
graduate students, and small business owners. Participation in the study was voluntary.
7.2. Test and questionnaires
(1) The Clance Impostor Scale (CIPS; Clance, 1985) was used to assess imposter tendencies. It is
a 20 item instrument measuring feelings such as fear of failure despite previous success, fear of
evaluation as well as attributions to luck. The questionnaire uses a 5 point Likert Scale
(1 = not at all true to 5 = very true), with sample items such as ‘‘I avoid evaluations if possible’’;
‘‘I can give the impression that I am more competent than I really am’’.
(2) The Self-Handicapping Scale (SH Scale) (Rhodewalt, 1990). The SH Scale is a 6 point Likert
scale (0 = agree very much to 5 = disagree very much), and it measures individual diﬀerences in
the tendency to use self-handicapping behaviors such as lack of eﬀort and procrastination. For
example: ‘‘I hate to be in any condition but my best’’ (negatively scored); ‘‘I tend to put things
oﬀ until the last moment’’.
(3) The Parental Bonding Instrument (PBI) (Parker et al., 1979). This 25 item instrument is
based on the concept of a ÔbondÕ between parent and child as outlined by Bowlby (1977); and
it measures parental care and overprotection in the parent–child relationship. The overprotection
scale measures control and domination of the child with items such as ‘‘I let my child decide things
for herself’’ (negatively scored) and ‘‘I try to control everything that she does’’. The care/warmth
scale assesses parental feelings of warmth and positive aﬀect toward the child, with items such as
‘‘I speak to my child with a warm and friendly smile’’ and ‘‘I make my child feel that she is
not wanted’’ (negatively scored). Respondents score each of their parents on a 4 point scale from
(1) very like to (4) very unlike, as they remember their parents during the ﬁrst 16 years of their
(4) The Esoteric Analogies Test (EA) from the Quickie Test Battery (Stankov, 1997). The test
assesses both reasoning and verbal skills (see Carroll, 1993), and was also utilized to assess con-
ﬁdence judgments. Participants are asked to complete the verbal analogy using 4 choices pro-
vided. Example: Chick is to Hen as Calf is to—Bull; Cow; Coat; Elephant (ans. Cow). After
responding to an item, participants were asked to assess a conﬁdence level in their answer. This
conﬁdence was expressed in percentages (with 25% used as a starting point as it is the probability
of answering the question correctly by chance in 4 alternative multiple-choice items; this was ex-
plained to participants). Hence, the test yields two scores: Accuracy (percentage correct) and Self-
conﬁdence. The test used in this study was shortened to reduce overall testing time, and contained
12 items out of 24 normally used.
966 J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971
Participants were provided with an envelope containing the instructions, questionnaires and
demographic information (age and sex), and a stamped self-addressed envelope for the completed
questionnaires to be returned through the mail.
Table 1 summarizes the descriptive statistics and reliability coeﬃcients (CronbachÕs aÕs) for the
variables used in this study.
Descriptive statistics and the reliability for the IP Scale (M = 53.61, a = .90) are comparable to
those reported in the relevant literature (see Cowman & Ferrari, 2002; Ross et al., 2001). Scores
on the SH scale showed a mean of 50.75 which is lower than that reported by the author of the
scale (M = 60, see Rhodewalt, 1990). This could be attributed to the cultural diﬀerences resulting
from the use of a US normed scale on an Australian population. Alternatively, it is possible that
this sample is indeed lower on self-handicapping tendencies. Reliability for the SH scale is com-
parable with research in this area (see Rhodewalt, 1990). The ﬁndings for the scores derived from
the EAT are similar to those reported elsewhere in the literature (see Stankov, 1999). That is, the
overall conﬁdence level corresponds closely to the accuracy level. Reliability coeﬃcients of accu-
racy and conﬁdence are reasonable. The overall level of accuracy is high (85.05%), suggesting that
people found this test rather easy.
Table 2 presents correlations between measures employed in this study. As these correlations
will be summarized by the path model (reported below), only a short overview of correlations
is given here.
8.1. Correlations between SH, IP and PBI scales
Replicating previous results, self-handicapping tendencies correlate positively with feelings of
impostorism. While impostor scores correlate negatively with paternal care/warmth, they show
no signiﬁcant correlation with maternal care/warmth. Also, impostor scores correlate positively
Descriptive statistics and reliability coeﬃcients
Variable Mean SD a
Imposter Phenomenon Scale 53.61 13.22 .90
Self-Handicapping Scale 50.75 13.76 .76
PBI: Maternal care 26.39 8.78 .92
PBI: Maternal overprotection 11.70 7.47 .86
PBI: Paternal care 22.23 9.40 .93
PBI: Paternal overprotection 10.41 7.03 .87
EAT: Accuracy 85.05 13.48 .76
EAT: Conﬁdence 82.45 11.47 .73
PBI = Parental Bonding Instrument; EAT = Esoteric Analogies Test.
J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971 967
Correlations between measures employed
2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
** ** ** ** *
1 IPS .53 À.10 .25 À.30 .34 .08 À.21 À.03
2 SHS À.20* .27** À.21* .22* À.03 À.18 À.12
3 PBI M care À.41** .13 À.12 À.01 À.06 À.32**
4 PBI M overprotection À.12 .41** .06 À.21* .09
5 PBI P care À.20* .09 .03 .03
6 PBI P overprotection À.05 À.11 .02
7 EAT Accuracy .48** .21*
8 EAT Conﬁdence .25**
9 Age 1
IPS = Imposter Phenomenon Scale; SHS = Self-Handicapping Scale; PBI = Parental Bonding Instrument;
M = Maternal; P = Paternal; EAT = Esoteric Analogies Test.
p < .05.
p < .01.
with both maternal and paternal overprotection scores. A similar pattern of correlations is evident
for the Self-Handicapping Scale, yet there are signiﬁcant negative correlations between self-hand-
icapping and both parental care/warmth scores.
8.2. Correlations with conﬁdence and accuracy scores of the EAT
Conﬁdence judgments correlate positively with accuracy level of the EAT (see Stankov, 1999).
Supporting the predictions of this study, higher impostor scores correlate with lower conﬁdence
levels, but not with the accuracy score of the test. Self-handicapping scores show no correlation
with either measure of this test. Interestingly, there is a signiﬁcant negative correlation between
maternal overprotection and conﬁdence score of the EAT, but not its accuracy. No other parental
style has signiﬁcant correlations with conﬁdence or accuracy scores.
8.3. Correlations with age
There are no signiﬁcant correlations between age and either self-handicapping tendencies or
imposter feelings. Replicating previous ﬁndings, older people perform better on EAT (Carroll,
1993) and they also provided higher conﬁdence estimates (Stankov, 1999).
To examine the relationship between parental styles and IP, SH and self-conﬁdence further, a
path analysis was employed using the Maximum Likelihood method from the AMOS program
(Arbuckle & Wothke, 1999). Although causal paths of imposter and self-handicapping tendencies
are not entirely clear, it is assumed that parental styles precede and impact on development of
both tendencies. Hence, in view of previous ﬁndings, care and overprotective parental styles (sep-
arately for both parents) and age were entered as ﬁve independent variables. The dependent vari-
ables were scores on IP and SH scales, and Esoteric Analogies accuracy and conﬁdence estimates.
In addition to assessing eﬀects of the independent on the dependent variables (referred to as bÕs),
the model incorporated the relationship between diﬀerent independent variables (labeled as
968 J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971
correlations or covariates in Fig. 1) and between diﬀerent dependent variables (indexed as c coef-
ﬁcients, see Fig. 1).
As a ﬁrst step, all possible covariances and bÕs were built into the model. Then, paths that were
not statistically signiﬁcant (p > .05) were ﬁxed to be equal to zero. Then the relationship between
dependent variables (cÕs) was investigated. Only two paths—the path between IP and SH and the
path between IP and Self-conﬁdence—were signiﬁcant. The direction of the former relationship is
somewhat easier to establish than the latter. That is, it has been argued that SH strategies are used
as a protective measure for people suﬀering from impostor feelings. So that those feelings are in
fact an antecedent of self-handicapping strategies.
The nature of the relationship between IP and Self-conﬁdence is more diﬃcult to determine. It
is possible that having low levels of conﬁdence in dealing with cognitive problems predisposes
people to develop IP. It is also possible that the opposite eﬀect takes place: having IP results in
having a lower conﬁdence level. A feedback loop between these two constructs is also likely to
exist. The current investigation was not designed to study this issue and current data may only
suggest the presence of a relationship between Self-conﬁdence and IP, not a causal link. This issue
undoubtedly deserves systematic investigation, for the sake of this model, however, we assume
that IP aﬀects the general conﬁdence level.
The resulting model has a good ﬁt: v2 = 26.23, v2/df = 1.09, RMSEA = .03 (its 90% Conﬁ-
dence Interval was .001–.08), GFI = .95 and the Tucker–Lewis index = .98 (see Byrne, 2001).
Overall, this model explained 15% of IP, 28% of SH tendencies, 9% of Accuracy and 22% of
Self-conﬁdence scores. The model is presented in Fig. 1.
When eﬀects of diﬀerent parental styles are assessed simultaneously (see Fig. 1), feelings of
impostorism are aﬀected directly by paternal care only: higher levels of paternal overprotection
Independent Variables Dependent Variables
0.30 Care 0.23
beta Only significant (p<.05)
gamma values are reported
Fig. 1. Diagram summarizing the results of path analysis.
J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971 969
results in a higher degree of impostorism (b = .23), while more of paternal warmth and care result
in lower levels of impostorism feelings (b = À.32). Relationship between both maternal care and
maternal overprotection parental styles on impostorism do not reach signiﬁcance. However,
maternal overprotection has an indirect eﬀect on IP via its signiﬁcant relationship with paternal
overprotection tendencies (r = .30). Also, higher levels of maternal care are linked to lower self-
handicapping scores (b = À.20). Higher levels of maternal overprotection are negatively related to
conﬁdence ratings (b = À.16). Additionally, higher imposter scores related to lower conﬁdence
ratings (c = À.30), but not performance on the EAT. This shows a ‘‘gap’’ in that the higher
the impostor scores, the lower the conﬁdence judgments—which does not reﬂect actual perfor-
mance on the test.
Accuracy and conﬁdence levels of the Esoteric Analogies Test are correlated (r = .48). Also, the
older the participants are, the higher is the accuracy of their performance, and the higher are their
conﬁdence ratings (bÕs = .29 and .31, respectively). Age, however, was not a signiﬁcant predictor
of SH tendencies, but older people tend to report less degree of maternal care (b = À.27).
This study replicated the link between imposter feelings and self-handicapping tendencies. The
study also added to the available literature new ﬁndings regarding the importance of diﬀerent styles
of parenting to both constructs. Additionally, empirical support was found for the existence of low-
er self-conﬁdence, but not lower accuracy of performance, in impostors. This study also provided a
better representation of a general population sample, in contrast to much of the research in impos-
tor phenomenon and self-handicapping, which involves primarily university students.
The strongest predictor of self-handicapping tendencies, in this study, was the existence of feel-
ings of impostorism, and the strongest predictor of feelings of impostorism was overprotection or
lack of care in the paternal parenting style. In contrast, perceived lack of maternal care contrib-
uted to self-handicapping tendencies, but did not impact on impostor feelings.
In accordance with the conceptualization of both impostorism and self-handicapping, it was
expected that lower levels of conﬁdence would be related to both constructs. In agreement with
our prediction, lower conﬁdence judgments were associated with higher impostor scores, while
there was no diﬀerence in accuracy of performance. This is a notable ﬁnding, as this demonstrated
gap between assessment of ability and performance validates the original formulation of the
impostor phenomenon, as high achievers who make unreasonably low assessment of their perfor-
mance. This ﬁnding warrants more detailed research into the links between IP and the personality
dimensions which incorporate the self-conﬁdence construct (e.g, Proactiveness, Extraversion).
The fact that self-handicapping tendencies did not show any relationship with self-conﬁdence
may be the result of the unusually low level of self-handicapping tendencies exhibited by this sam-
ple. This ﬁnding, however, requires further scrutiny.
The parenting style of the father emerged as an important contributor in this study. Both
dimensions of fathersÕ involvement with their children—care and overprotection—had an inﬂu-
ence on development of feelings of impostorism. This result replicates one of the ﬁndings by Son-
nak and Towell (2001), who report that parental overprotection contributes to impostor feelings.
This study reﬁned that result by the use of separate variables for mothers and fathers, and through
970 J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971
path analysis was able to determine that it is the paternal contribution which predicts impostor
feelings, while the maternal contribution was found to have a signiﬁcant but indirect impact on
impostorism (via its relationships to paternal styles). Additionally, this study found a correlation
between lack of care and development of feelings of impostorism—but again only in relation to
the input of the father.
The ﬁnding that the role of the father may be especially signiﬁcant in development of impostor
feelings is a new and notable addition to the literature on the family background of the impostor.
Paternal overprotection as a contributor to impostor feelings is consistent with attachment theory
(Bowlby, 1977). The overprotective father may have had a narcissistic involvement in his childÕs
achievements, and the self-criticism imposed on themselves by impostors may be an internalisation
of the parental desire for success. Conversely, the overprotective father may simply be motivated
by love, and a desire for his child to be spared any disappointment. The outcome may be similar—
such a father deprives his child of the opportunity to earn their feelings of competence. The ﬁnding
that increased levels of care resulted in lower scores on feelings of impostorism oﬀers the suggestion
of a protective ‘‘buﬀer’’ provided by paternal warmth. It would seem that while fathers have the
opportunity to negatively impact on the childÕs development, they also have a signiﬁcant positive
impact by the provision of care and warmth, separately from maternal care and warmth.
Replicating previous ﬁndings we found that the constructs of IP and SH explain about 25% of
the variance in each other. However, comparing both constructs from the perspective of parental
rearing style provides several points of diﬀerence. The only parenting variable to have a relation-
ship with SH tendencies is maternal care. These results supports those of Greaven et al. (2000), who
found that lack of maternal care resulted in increased self-handicapping in girls. These results also
support the original view of SH tendencies as being a result of the child failing to develop feelings of
being unconditionally loved (see Jones & Berglas, 1978). Hence, while impostorism has a signiﬁ-
cant impact on SH tendencies, the two constructs may have diﬀerent developmental roots.
A speciﬁc focus for further studies could include longitudinal investigation into the motivational
antecedents of both constructs (e.g., conﬁdence). Further investigation is also required into the role
of fathers in the development of impostor feelings. This study used a two-factor solution of the
PBI. Some studies, however, have utilized a three-factor solution, in which overprotection is bro-
ken down into denial of psychological autonomy and encouragement of behavioral freedom (see
Kendler, 1996; Murphy, Brewin, & Silka, 1997). Further studies utilizing the three-factor model
may be able to discover just what aspect of paternal parenting it is that triggers impostor feelings.
In conclusion, important ﬁndings of this study are that imposters showed a ‘‘gap’’ in the assess-
ment of their abilities and their actual performance, and the strongest predictor of having impos-
tor feelings was shown to be paternal parenting—whether in the form of overprotection or lack of
care. Although feelings of impostorism were strong predictors of self-handicapping tendencies, the
two constructs appear to have diﬀerent developmental roots.
Arbuckle, J. L., & Wothke, W. (1999). Amos 4.0 userÕs guide. Chicago: SPSS Inc.
Bernard, N. S., Dollinger, S. J., & Ramaniah, N. V. (2002). Applying the big ﬁve personality factors to the impostor
phenomenon. Journal of Personality Assessment, 78, 321–333.
J. Want, S. Kleitman / Personality and Individual Diﬀerences 40 (2006) 961–971 971
Bowlby, J. (1977). The making and breaking of aﬀectional bonds. British Journal of Psychiatry, 130, 201–210.
Byrne, B. M. (2001). Structural equation modeling with AMOS: Basic concepts, applications and programming. New
Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associated.
Carroll, J. B. (1993). Human cognitive abilities: A survey of factor-analytic studies. New York: Cambridge University
Chae, J. H., Piedmont, R. L., Estadt, B. K., & Wicks, R. J. (1995). Personological evaluation of ClanceÕs impostor
phenomenon scale in a Korean sample. Journal of Personality Assessment, 65, 468–485.
Clance, P. R. (1985). The impostor phenomenon: Overcoming the fear that haunts your success. Atlanta: Peachtree
Clance, P. R., & Imes, S. A. (1978). The impostor phenomenon in high achieving women: dynamics and therapeutic
intervention. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, 15, 241–247.
Cowman, S. E., & Ferrari, J. R. (2002). Am I for real? Predicting impostor tendencies from self-handicapping and
aﬀective components. Social Behaviour and Personality, 30, 119–126.
Cozzarelli, C., & Major, B. (1990). Exploring the validity of the impostor phenomenon. Journal of Social and Clinical
Psychology, 9, 401–417.
Greaven, S. H., Santor, D. A., Thompson, R., & Zuroﬀ, D. C. (2000). Adolescent self-handicapping, depressive aﬀect,
and maternal parenting styles. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29, 631–646.
Harvey, N. (1997). Conﬁdence in judgment. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 1(2), 78–82.
Jones, E. E., & Berglas, S. (1978). Control of attributions about the self through self-handicapping strategies: the appeal
of alcohol and the role of underachievement. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 4, 200–206.
Jonsson, A., & Allwood, C. M. (2003). Stability and variability in the realism of conﬁdence judgments over time,
content domain, and gender. Personality and Individual Diﬀerences, 34(4), 559–574.
Kelley, H. (1971). Attribution and social interaction. Morristown, NJ: General Learning Press.
Kendler, K. S. (1996). Parenting: a genetic-epidemiologic perspective. American Journal of Psychiatry, 153, 11–20.
Kleitman, S., & Stankov, L. (2001). Ecological and person-oriented aspects of metacognitive processes in test-taking.
Applied Cognitive Psychology, 25, 321–341.
Langford, J., & Clance, P. R. (1993). The impostor phenomenon: recent research ﬁndings regarding dynamics,
personality and family patterns and their implications for treatment. Psychotherapy, 30, 495–501.
Murphy, E., Brewin, C. R., & Silka, L. (1997). The assessment of parenting using the parental bonding instrument: two
or three factors? Psychological Medicine, 27, 333–342.
Parker, G., Tupling, H., & Brown, L. B. (1979). A parental bonding instrument. British Journal of Medical Psychology,
Rhodewalt, F. (1990). Self-handicappers: individual diﬀerences in the preference for anticipatory, self-protective acts. In
R. Higgins, C. Snyder, & S. Berglas (Eds.), Self-handicapping: The paradox that isnÕt (pp. 69–106). New York:
Ross, S. R., & Krukowski, R. A. (2003). The imposter phenomenon and maladaptive personality: Type and trait
characteristics. Personality and Individual Diﬀerences, 34(3), 477–484.
Ross, S. R., Stewart, J. S., Mugge, M., & Fultz, B. (2001). The impostor phenomenon, achievement dispositions, and
the Five Factor Model. Personality and Individual Diﬀerences, 31, 1347–1355.
Sonnak, C., & Towell, T. (2001). The impostor phenomenon in British university students: relationships between self-
esteem, mental health, parental rearing style and socioeconomic status. Personality and Individual Diﬀerences, 31,
Stankov, L. (1997). The Gf/Gc quickie test battery: Unpublished test battery available from the School of Psychology.
University of Sydney.
Stankov, L. (1999). Mining on the ‘‘no manÕs land’’ between intelligence and personality. In P. L. Ackerman, P. C.
Kyllonen, & R. D. Roberts (Eds.), Learning and individual diﬀerences: Process, trait, and content determinants
(pp. 315–337). Washington, DC, USA: American Psychological Association.
Thompson, T., Davis, H., & Davidson, J. (1998). Attributional and aﬀective responses of impostors to academic success
and failure outcomes. Personality and Individual Diﬀerences, 25, 381–396.
Topping, M. E. H., & Kimmel, E. B. (1985). The impostor phenomenon: feeling phony. Academic Psychology Bulletin,