Revisiting the Impostor Phenomenon: How Individuals Cope with Feelings of Being in Over their Heads

The Role of the Economic Crisis on Occupational Stress and Well Being

ISBN: 978-1-78190-004-8, eISBN: 978-1-78190-005-5

ISSN: 1479-3555

Publication date: 2 October 2012

Abstract

The recent economic recession has led many organizations to downsize, or eliminate positions, in an effort to cut labor costs and improve profitability. Survivors may suddenly find themselves over-rewarded, or prematurely promoted, into one or more vacant positions. One negative consequence of over-reward in particular, impostor phenomenon, may present significant challenges at both the individual and organizational level. Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to examine the consequences and coping strategies of survivors who perceive themselves as over-rewarded and under-qualified for a job. Hobfoll's Conservation of Resources Theory (COR) serves as this study's framework to explicate the outcomes associated with impostor feelings and how impostors cope with their perceived inadequacy. Specifically, we propose that impostor feelings will be positively related to emotional exhaustion. To deal with the exhaustion, impostors may rely on coping strategies in order to master the additional internal and external demands created by feelings of impostorism. The type of strategy used by impostors to cope with the exhaustion is influenced by the level of perceived social support. That is, impostors who perceive higher levels of support will resort to active coping while those who perceive lower levels of support will resort to avoidant coping. Managerial implications and directions for future research are offered.

Keywords

Citation

Whitman, M. and Shanine, K. (2012), "Revisiting the Impostor Phenomenon: How Individuals Cope with Feelings of Being in Over their Heads", Perrewé, P., Halbesleben, J. and Rosen, C. (Ed.) The Role of the Economic Crisis on Occupational Stress and Well Being (Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Vol. 10), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 177-212. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-3555(2012)0000010009

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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