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European Journal of Psychology of Education

, Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 125–140 | Cite as

Relations between impostor feelings and upward and downward identification and contrast among 10- to 12-year-old students

  • Marie-Hélène Chayer
  • Thérèse Bouffard
Article

Abstract

The first objective of this study was to examine the presence of the impostor phenomenon (IP) among 740 students aged 10 to 12 years old. The second objective was twofold: (1) to examine the link between the impostor feelings and the propensity to use social comparison and (2) to examine whether this feeling is related to the processes of identification with versus contrast to others who are either doing better or worse than oneself. Results showed that, although generally of low intensity, the impostor feelings are indeed present in late elementary school children. A positive link between the impostor feelings and the propensity to use social comparison was also observed. It also appeared that, more than for others, children who feel like impostors were likely to differentiate themselves from their more capable peers while identifying themselves with less capable peers. The discussion focuses on the presence of the IP in late elementary children and on how the upward contrast and the downward identification may contribute to its development and maintenance.

Keywords

Impostor feelings Propensity toward social comparison Upward and downward contrast Upward and downward identification 10- to 12-year-old children 

Résumé

Le premier objectif de cette étude est d'examiner la présence du sentiment d'imposteur chez des élèves de 10–12 ans. Le second objectif est d'examiner le lien entre ce sentiment et la propension à la comparaison sociale, et le troisième de vérifier si ce même sentiment est relié aux processus d'identification et de différenciation avec une cible faisant mieux que soi ou faisant moins bien que soi. L'examen de 740 élèves a permis de constater que, même s'il est généralement de faible intensité, le sentiment d'imposteur est bel et bien présent à cet âge. On observe un lien positif entre le sentiment d'imposteur et la propension à se comparer, et, plus ce sentiment est présent chez un élève, plus il rapporte se juger différent de ses pairs qui réussissent bien et s'identifier à ceux qui réussissent plus difficilement. La discussion s'intéresse à la façon dont la différenciation ascendante et l'identification descendante peuvent contribuer à l'émergence et au maintien du sentiment d'imposteur chez les élèves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

Data collection and preparation of this article were supported by grants to the second author from The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (Government of Canada). The authors thank the principals, teachers, students, and parents for their participation.

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Copyright information

© Instituto Superior de Psicologia Aplicada, Lisboa, Portugal and Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Département de PsychologieUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada

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