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The ridiculed Impostor: Testing the associations between dispositions toward ridicule and being laughed at and the Impostor Phenomenon

Abstract

Individual differences in how people experience and engage in laughter and ridicule can be described by three personality dispositions: gelotophobia (fear of being laughed at), gelotophilia (joy in being laughed at), and katagelasticism (joy in laughing at others). We study the correlates of how people deal with ridicule and being laughed at with the Impostor Phenomenon (IP; individual differences in the failure to internalize success and feelings of intellectual fraud). We tested our hypotheses in two independently collected samples of students and working professionals (N = 315/229; M = 22.7/37.1 years; 54.9/59.4% females). In line with previous studies, the IP was more pronounced in the students (g = 0.45). As expected, the fear of being laughed at best predicted the IP robustly positively (26–31% explained variance), and only numerically small effects (≤ 3% explained variance) existed for joy in being laughed at and laughing at others. Associations between the laughter-related dispositions and the IP did not differ between students and professionals. We discuss the findings with respect to expectations derived from theory, potential mediators, and future research directions.

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Brauer, K., Proyer, R.T. The ridiculed Impostor: Testing the associations between dispositions toward ridicule and being laughed at and the Impostor Phenomenon. Curr Psychol (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-019-00262-5

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Keywords

  • Gelotophobia
  • Gelotophilia
  • Impostor phenomenon
  • Katagelasticism
  • Laughter
  • Ridicule