The Vermont Connection


Queena Hoang


The “impostor phenomenon” is the crippling feeling of self-doubt, intellectual inadequacy, and anticipated failure that haunts people who attribute their success to luck or help from others rather than their own abilities (Nelson, 2011). These feelings, often undetected by others, manifest as anxiety, self-deprecation, or an irrational fear of failure in light of previous success (Bernard, Dollinger, & Ramaniah, 2002; Langford & Clance, 1993; Leary, Patton, Orlando, & Frank, 2000). Clance and Imes (1978) first discovered this psychological experience while studying high-achieving female college students and professionals and thus coined the term impostor phenomenon (IP). This article will explore the literature around IP, its impact on men and women, graduate level students, and senior student affairs practitioners in higher education, and offer insights and suggestions on how to navigate IP while working with students or colleagues.