The imposter phenomenon is a psychological experience characterized by feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite evidence of achievement and success. Employees with these imposter-like thoughts feel as if they ended up in notable roles and positions not because of merit, but from oversight or luck. Research and popular press articles have portrayed the imposter phenomenon as a negative experience, bringing costs to the individual's well-being and work life. Yet, recent research has revealed that perhaps a favorable trajectory to the imposter experience might exist. To address this question, participants were identified and interviewed using a two-phase, sequential explanatory mixed-methods design. Participants were individuals who reported relatively high imposter-like feelings but did not exhibit the negative outcomes typically associated with this experience. Among these individuals, the imposter phenomenon was largely seen as an opportunity for personal growth and professional development, one that challenged and motivated them toward continuous self-improvement. These results provide new insight into how some individuals appraise and subsequently experience their imposter-like feelings. Several propositions were developed from this research, many of which highlight the role of cognitive appraisal as an important construct for better understanding how the imposter phenomenon can be experienced. Implications for future research are discussed.
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Master of Science (M.S.)
College of Sciences
Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Length of Campus-only Access
Masters Thesis (Open Access)
Hill, Emily, "Can Feeling Like an Imposter Be Favorable? A Qualitative Study on the Role of Appraisal in Harnessing the Imposter Phenomenon for Growth" (2022). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2020-. 1024.