Journal of Undergraduate Research


imposter phenomenon, high-achievers, antecedents and consequences


David O. McKay School of Education


Educational Leadership and Foundations


Impostor Phenomenon (or Impostor Syndrome) is a psychological phenomenon in which individuals are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, persons with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. The primary purpose of our study is to identify and examine the potential antecedents and consequences of Impostor Phenomenon exhibited in the lives of students and professionals.

Previous research has demonstrated that Impostor Phenomenon is most prevalent among high-achievers in competitive organizations, institutions, or programs. Thus, our sample consists of undergraduate accounting students who are beginning the junior core. For almost twenty years now, the undergraduate and graduate accounting programs at BYU have been ranked in the top three in America. This kind of reputation is not easy to develop, and it is certainly difficult to maintain. To ensure the highest standards of performance, the School of Accountancy is extremely strict with regards to admissions—only students with the most impressive academic records are accepted. Although the school’s primary goals are to fulfill the aims of a BYU education, high barriers to entry make the program more competitive than many others on campus.