Date of Award

Spring 1989

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Nina W. Brown

Committee Member

Janis Sanchez-Hucles

Committee Member

Robert H. MacDonald

Committee Member

Fred L. Adair

Committee Member

Robert Lucking


This study was designed as an ex post facto investigation of the Impostor Phenomenon (IP) in high-achieving students on the secondary educational level. The purpose of the study was to ascertain if impostors could be differentiated from non-impostors on the basis of gender, grade level, grade point average (GPA), personality characteristics and irrational beliefs. A cutoff score of 40 on the Harvey IP Scale was selected a priori to divide subjects into impostor and non-impostor groups.

Subjects for this investigation consisted of 104 honors English students in grades nine through twelve from a large suburban high school in Southeastern Virginia. Each subject completed the Harvey IP Scale, Demographic Data Form, Adjective Check List (ACL) and Jones's Irrational Beliefs Test (IBT).

Separate chi-square analyses revealed that the proportion of impostors and non-impostors remained constant across both gender and grade level. The results of a one-way analysis of variance indicated that the impostor and non-impostor groups did not differ significantly on mean GPA. A stepwise discriminant analysis of the ACL Need Scales revealed that three variables (Succorance, Deference and Intraception) combined to significantly differentiate the impostor and non-impostor groups. A stepwise discriminant analysis of the IBT scales showed that a combination of High Self-Expectation, Anxious Overconcern, Dependency and Emotional Irresponsibility significantly separated the impostor and non-impostor groups.

The null hypotheses relating to gender, grade level and GPA were supported by the data. The null hypotheses relating to the Need Scales of the ACL and the IBT scales were not supported by the data. The Adapted Child scale of the ACL was the best single predictor of the IP.