The impact of the impostor phenomenon on mental health outcomes of undergraduate students




Archer, Jennifer Elizabeth

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This paper provides an overview of the impostor phenomenon as it pertains to the mental health outcomes of college undergraduate students. This overview is framed within a larger concern for factors negatively impacting college retention. This paper reviews the origin and descriptions of the impostor phenomenon, differences based on demographic variables as well as the impostor phenomenon’s connection to career planning, mental health such as anxiety and depression, and maladaptive perfectionism. Suggestions for interventions based on the benefits of cognitive behavioral therapy in treating perfectionism as well as discussions of the potential value of self-compassion skill-building will be presented. Recommendations for future research include special attention to how impostorism is conceptualized within ethnic/racial minority communities and the value of training career counselors to recognize signs of impostorism.


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