Cognitive Behavioral Therapies Master of Science Program
Department of Psychology & Psychotherapy; Titu Maiorescu University

Irrational Beliefs and Impostor Phenomenon among High School Students: A Correlational Model and its Relevance to REBT Practice

This paper proposes a REBT understanding of the mechanisms behind the impostor phenomenon, and sustains it by presenting some theoretical and research based arguments, as well as an analysis of the statistical data revealed from an original study regarding the way fraudulence symptoms relate to four different content areas of irrational beliefs (self-downing, need for achievement, need for approval and need for comfort).

The research involved 87 Romanian last grade high school students (Mage = 18.21 years; SD = .40) whose cognitions and feelings were measured using Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale (CIPS; Clance, 1985) and Shortened General Attitude and Belief Scale (SGABS; Lindner et al., 1999) two 5-point Likert scale self-report questionnaires with good psychometric properties.

As expected, the obtained results emphasized that as each of the four types of irrational beliefs were more accentuated, the inner experience of feeling like a fraud was also more intense and frequent. In addition, the irrational beliefs that proved to be the most relevant for explaining or predicting the impostor phenomenon were the ones associated with the need for achievement. 

Although the applied research methodology and the statistical procedures do not enable causal interpretations or a direct practical utility of these findings, this research offers a minimum support for the theoretic framework related to the impostor phenomenon and REBT, as well as a starting point for future research. In addition, consistently with these aspects, the article discusses thoroughly some possibly important issues relevant for the REBT theory and practice with regard to impostor phenomenon symptoms.

Keywords: irrational beliefs, impostor phenomenon, rational emotive behavior therapy