Background: The mounting pressure to pursue novel endeavours, excel in academics and extracurriculars, improper mentoring, and looming deadlines have primarily been responsible for graduate students succumbing to the cut-throat competition prevalent in universities. In trying to keep up with the growing expectations, they may experience Impostor Phenomenon, which is often accompanied by feelings of unwarranted inadequacy and intellectual fraudulence – where students constantly question their capabilities despite evident success. Attributing their accomplishments to a stroke of luck, they believe they are not worthy of praise. These experiences of impostor
phenomenon end up exacting a heavy toll on the mental well-being of graduate students and subsequently, their perceptions of available sources of social support.
Purpose: In this context, the present investigation attempts to explore the impact of impostor phenomenon on psychological well-being and perceived social support among Indian graduate students; and analyze the gender differences in the experiences of impostor phenomenon.
Design/Methodology/Approach: The sample consisted of 230 Indian graduate students (115 males and 115 females) aged 18-25 years, who had academic scores equivalent to, or above, 65%. Purposive sampling technique was employed to gather data using the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale, Ryff’s Psychological Well-Being Scale, and the Multidimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support.
Findings: Results of the study yielded that impostor Phenomenon is a significant negative predictor of Psychological Well-Being, however no significant relationship was established with Perceived Social Support. No significant gender differences emerged from the data analysis.
Conclusion: The results can be utilized heuristically to facilitate the identification of graduate students experiencing impostor phenomenon, provide early interventions, and prevent the culmination of the same into psychopathology, thus enriching the literature on this lesser-known phenomenon in an Indian context.
Keywords: impostor phenomenon, impostor syndrome, psychological well-being, perceived social support