Impostor Phenomenon: an Overview of Foreign Studies



This study entails the overview of international research of impostor phenomenon. Individuals with high impostor phenomenon are not able to internalize their professional success and are afraid to be found as frauds. It can be regarded as a clear obstacle for successful career development. Recently there has been a marked increase in the interest to impostor phenomenon studies. As a result, the number of research publication on imposter phenomenon has grown sharply. This article attempts to classify these publications into three distinct groups: studies of imposter phenomenon in working context, research of impostor phenomenon and other personality dispositions, psychometric studies of a range of impostor phenomenon scales and their adaptations into different languages. Possible approaches to conceptualization of this phenomenon are discussed in the article as well as significance of this phenomenon in Russia. Directions of possible future studies have been identified. Also important are the tasks to clarify the definition of the impostor phenomenon and its factor structure. We examine into the possibility of studying the impostor phenomenon on samples of working adults and the application of multivariate analysis methods in data processing. The necessity of scientific study of ways to overcome or reduce the severity of the impostor phenomenon is emphasized.

General Information

Keywords: impostor phenomenon, scale development and adaptation, working environment, self-esteem, subjective well-being

Journal rubric: General Psychology

Article type: review article


Funding. The reported study was funded by Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR), project number 20-013-00743.

Received: 08.01.2023


For citation: Sheveleva M.S. Impostor Phenomenon: an Overview of Foreign Studies [Elektronnyi resurs]. Sovremennaia zarubezhnaia psikhologiia = Journal of Modern Foreign Psychology, 2023. Vol. 12, no. 2, pp. 116–124. DOI: 10.17759/jmfp.2023120211. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)

Full text



  1. Sheveleva M.S., Kornienko D.S., Permyakova T.M. Shkala fenomena samozvantsa: psikhometricheskie kharakteristiki russkoyazychnoi versii [Clance impostor phenomenon scale: psychometric properties of russian version]. Psikhologicheskii zhurnal [Psychological journal], 2021. Vol. 42, no. 1, pp. 132—142. DOI:10.31857/S020595920013343-3 (In Russ.).
  2. Bechtoldt M.N. Wanted: Self-doubting employees — Managers scoring positively on impostorism favor insecure employees in task delegation. Personality and Individual Differences, 2015. Vol. 86, pp. 482—486. DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2015.07.002
  3. Bernard D.L., Hoggard L.S., Neblett E.W. Racial discrimination, racial identity, and impostor phenomenon: A profile approach. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 2018. Vol. 24, no. 1, pp. 51—68. DOI:10.1037/cdp0000161
  4. Bernard N.S., Dollinger S.J., Ramaniah N.V. Applying the big five personality factors to the impostor phenomenon. Journal of Personality Assessment, 2002. Vol. 78, no. 2, pp. 321—333. DOI:10.1207/S15327752JPA7802_07
  5. Bernat E. Towards a pedagogy of empowerment: The case of “impostor syndrome” among pre-service non-native speaker teachers in TESOL [Elektronnyi resurs]. English Language Teacher Education and Development, 2008. Vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 1—8. URL: (Accessed 07.06.2023).
  6. Brauer K., Wolf A. Validation of the German-language Clance impostor phenomenon scale (GCIPS). Personality and Individual Differences, 2016. Vol. 102, pp. 153—158. DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2016.06.071
  7. Chakraverty D. PhD Student Experiences with the Impostor Phenomenon in STEM. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 2020. Vol. 15, no. 1, pp. 159—180. DOI:10.28945/4513
  8. Clance P.R., Imes S.A. The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice, 1978. Vol. 15, no. 3, pp. 241—247. DOI:10.1037/h0086006
  9. Bravata D.M., Madhusudhan D.K., Boroff M., Cokley K.O. Commentary: Prevalence, predictors, and treatment of imposter syndrome: A systematic review. Journal of Mental Health & Clinical Psychology, 2020. Vol. 4, no. 3, pp. 12—16. DOI:10.29245/2578-2959/2020/3/1207
  10. Feenstra S., Begeny C.T., Ryan M.K., Rink F.A., Stoker J.I., Jordan J. Contextualizing the impostor “syndrome”. Frontiers in Psychology, 2020. Vol. 11, article ID 575024. 6 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.575024
  11. Vergauwe J., Wille B., Feys M., De Fruyt F., Anseel F. Fear of being exposed: The trait-relatedness of the impostor phenomenon and its relevance in the work context. Journal of Business and Psychology, 2015. Vol. 30, no. 3, pp. 565—581. DOI:10.1007/s10869-014-9382-5
  12. Hellman C.M., Caselman T.D. A psychometric evaluation of the Harvey Imposter Phenomenon Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 2004. Vol. 83, no. 2, pp. 161—166. DOI:10.1207/s15327752jpa8302_10
  13. Hutchins H.M., Penney L.M., Sublett L.W. What imposters risk at work: Exploring imposter phenomenon, stress coping, and job outcomes. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 2018. Vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 31—48. DOI:10.1002/hrdq.21304
  14. Clance P.R., Dingman D., Reviere S.L., Stober D.R. Impostor phenomenon in an interpersonal/social context: Origins and treatment. Women & Therapy, 1995. Vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 79—96. DOI:10.1300/J015v16n04_07
  15. Harari D., Steed L.B., Swider B.W., Breidenthal A.P. Is perfect good? A meta-analysis of perfectionism in the workplace. Journal of Applied Psychology, 2018. Vol. 103, no. 10, pp. 1121—1144. DOI:10.1037/ apl0000324
  16. Kolligian Jr J., Sternberg R.J. Perceived Fraudulence in Young Adults: Is There an “Imposter Syndrome”? Journal of Personality Assessment, 1991. Vol. 56, no. 2, pp. 308—326. DOI:10.1207/s15327752jpa5602_10
  17. Leonhardt M., Bechtoldt M.N., Rohrmann S. All impostors aren’t alike—differentiating the impostor phenomenon. Frontiers in Psychology, 2017. Vol. 8, article ID 1505. 10 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2017.01505
  18. Mak K.K., Kleitman S., Abbott M.J. Impostor phenomenon measurement scales: A systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology, 2019. Vol. 10, article ID 671. 15 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00671
  19. Mapping the evolution of the impostor phenomenon research: A bibliometric analysis / S. Stone-Sabali, D.L. Bernard, K.J. Mills, P.R. Osborn. Current Psychology, 2023. 13 p. Published online: 07.01.2023. DOI:10.1007/s12144-022-04201-9
  20. Neureiter M., Traut-Mattausch E. An inner barrier to career development: Preconditions of the impostor phenomenon and consequences for career development. Frontiers in Psychology, 2016. Vol. 7, article ID 48. 15 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00048
  21. Neureiter M., Traut-Mattausch E. Inspecting the dangers of feeling like a fake: An empirical investigation of the impostor phenomenon in the world of work. Frontiers in Psychology, 2016. Vol. 7, article ID 1445. 12 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01445
  22. “Overcoming the fear that haunts your success” — The effectiveness of interventions for reducing the impostor phenomenon / M. Zanchetta, S. Junker, A.M. Wolf, E. Traut-Mattausch. Frontiers in Psychology, 2020. Vol. 11, article ID 405. 15 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00405
  23. Pannhausen S., Klug K., Rohrmann S. Never good enough: The relation between the impostor phenomenon and multidimensional perfectionism. Current Psychology, 2022. Vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 888—901. DOI:10.1007/s12144-020-00613-7
  24. Parkman A. The imposter phenomenon in higher education: Incidence and impact [Elektronnyi resurs]. Journal of Higher Education Theory and Practice, 2016. Vol. 16, no. 1, pp. 51—60. URL: (Accessed 06.06.2023).
  25. Chae J.H., Piedmont R.L., Estadt B.K., Wicks R.J. Personological evaluation of Clance's Imposter Phenomenon Scale in a Korean sample. Journal of Personality Assessment, 1995. Vol. 65, no. 3, pp. 468—485. DOI:10.1207/s15327752jpa6503_7
  26. Byrom N.C., Dinu L., Kirkman A., Hughes G. Predicting stress and mental wellbeing among doctoral researchers. Journal of Mental Health, 2022. Vol. 31, no. 6, pp. 783—791. DOI:10.1080/09638237.2020.1818196
  27. Bravata D.M., Watts S.A., Keefer A.L., Madhusudhan D.K., Taylor K.T., Clark D.M., Nelson R.S., Cokley K.O., Hagg H.K. Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Impostor Syndrome: a Systematic Review. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2020. Vol. 35, no. 4, pp. 1252—1275. DOI:10.1007/s11606-019-05364-1
  28. Rohrmann S., Bechtoldt M.N., Leonhardt M. Validation of the impostor phenomenon among managers. Frontiers in Psychology, 2016. Vol. 7, article ID 821. 11 p. DOI:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00821
  29. Schubert N., Bowker A. Examining the impostor phenomenon in relation to self-esteem level and self-esteem instability. Current Psychology, 2019. Vol. 38, no. 3, pp. 749—755. DOI:10.1007/s12144-017-9650-4
  30. Cokley K., Stone S., Krueger N., Bailey M., Garba R., Hurst A. Self-esteem as a mediator of the link between perfectionism and the impostor phenomenon. Personality and Individual Differences, 2018. Vol. 135, pp. 292—297. DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2018.07.032
  31. Sharma S. Impostor phenomenon, career satisfaction and perceived career success of research scholars: Testing the mediator role of career optimism [Elektronnyi resurs]. Pacific Business Review International, 2018. Vol. 10, no. 9, pp. 182—187. URL: (Accessed 07.06.2023).
  32. Simon M., Choi Y.J. Using factor analysis to validate the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale in sample of science, technology, engineering and mathematics doctoral students. Personality and Individual Differences, 2018. Vol. 121, pp. 173—175. DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2017.09.039
  33. Tao K.W, Gloria A.M. Should I stay or should I go? The role of impostorism in STEM persistence. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 2019. Vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 151—164. DOI:10.1177/0361684318802333
  34. Pákozdy C., Askew J., Dyer J., Gately P., Martin L., Mavor K.I., Brown G.R. The imposter phenomenon and its relationship with self-efficacy, perfectionism and happiness in university students. Current Psychology, 2023. 10 p. Published online: 08.05.2023. DOI:10.1007/s12144-023-04672-4
  35. Ross S.R., Stewart J., Mugge M., Fultz B. The imposter phenomenon, achievement dispositions, and the five factor model. Personality and Individual Differences, 2001. Vol. 31, no. 8, pp. 1347—1355. DOI:10.1016/S0191-8869(00)00228-2
  36. Leary M.R., Patton K.M., Orlando A.E., Wagoner W. Funk The impostor phenomenon: Self perceptions, reflected appraisals, and interpersonal strategies. Journal of Personality, 2000. Vol. 68, no. 4, pp. 725—756. DOI:10.1111/1467-6494.00114
  37. Wang K.T., Sheveleva M.S., Permyakova T.M. Imposter syndrome among Russian students: The link between perfectionism and psychological distress. Personality and Individual Differences, 2019. Vol. 143, pp. 1—6. DOI:10.1016/j.paid.2019.02.005
  38. Muradoglu M., Horne Z., Hammond M.D., Leslie S.J., Cimpian A. Women particularly underrepresented minority women and early career academics feel like impostors in fields that value brilliance. Journal of Educational Psychology, 2022. Vol. 114, no. 5, pp. 1086—1100. DOI:10.1037/edu0000669

Information About the Authors

Marina S. Sheveleva, PhD in Psychology, Associate Professor, Head of Department of Foreign Languages, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Perm, Russia, ORCID:, e-mail:



Total: 639
Previous month: 39
Current month: 19


Total: 419
Previous month: 46
Current month: 15