Fear of Success: Imposters or Pretenders?

Essay by xf9p4University, Master's April 2012

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Fear of Success: Imposters or Pretenders?

Many people hold the stereotype of the arrogant CEOs or managers barking orders aboard a company jet; however, even some high achieving entrepreneurs are afflicted to believe that not their own capabilities, but the external circumstances, such as charisma, deception or even good luck lead to a string of success. Psychologists call this the impostor phenomenon (Birgit, 2011). People with impostor syndrome actually view themselves as swindlers who cheat their way to success and therefore live in anxiety and depression fearing the exposure of true self in public. Recently, researchers examined the emotional characteristics of people plagued by such disorders. Findings suggest that the perfectionistic personality could help explain the assumed high expectation from others within impostors. Moreover, imposter may fall in two types: true impostors do experience the inaccurate assessment of their own abilities; strategic imposters, who act more like pretenders, however, intentionally benefit from conveying a positive impression of themselves and increased social approval by engaging in strategic self-presentation in evaluating settings (Leary, M.R.,

Patton, K.M., Orlando, A.E., & Funk, W.W, 2000).

Perfectionistic concern

According to the strength and pervasiveness of the self-esteem motive, the imposters appear to lack the fundamental tendency for self-enhancement. Previous studies indicate that imposters experience discomfort when they succeed and deny the fact that they are as competent as their behavior. (Clance,1985; Clance & Imes, 1978; Harvey & Katz, 1985). The other personality trait linked to impostor phenomenon that has been shown to raise depressive disorders is labeled as perfectionism. Thompson, Foreman, and Martin (2000) found that impostor fears were related to an exaggerated, perfectionistic concern over making mistakes. Flett and Hewitt (2002) also stated that the perfectionistic concern over one's performance involve a strong self-presentational component and is associated with rumination over performance, depression and high...