Imposter Syndrome and Authority Level of Parents

2018-10-29 16:22 来源:《留学》杂志 章馨允
2018-10-29 16:22:14来源:《留学》杂志作者:章馨允责任编辑:孙宗鹤

  菁英小记者_章馨允 编辑_孟蕾 设计_李阳


  The research is focused on the relationship of imposter syndrome and authority level of parents, and how authoritarian style affects the level of imposter syndrome in high school students. Our hypothesis is that authoritarian parenting (sometimes popularly referred to “tiger parents”) creates constant pressure on children to do better. Specifically, children are not allowed to rest on their laurels, and must continually work harder. They are not praised on ability but develop personal modesty to continue effort. While this might lead people to externalize that achievement, seeing it as product of luck rather than self-effort. The feature could be defined as imposter syndrome.


  The overly modest behaviors, like discount praises and external attribution, sometimes are not product of social norm, but potentially the result of a psychological phenomenon called impostor syndrome. The symptoms of “Imposter syndrome” include external attribution of accomplishments, feeling of self-doubt and lack of self-confidence (Sakulku. J & Alexander. J, 2011). The research assumed the imposter syndrome in China may also be associated with a typical parenting style called “tiger parenting”, which is similar with authoritarian parenting style. This high expectation in academical aspect may lead to much pressure and anxiety on their children. The too strict requirements may also result in exact demands for students they would set for themselves. As a result, children in this kind of family may feel like failures and unqualified family members (Wang et al., 2014). The study would test the hypothesis that whether or not the authoritarian parents are more easily to raise children with imposter syndrome.

  Research on imposter syndrome and family patterns suggest imposter feelings could be attributed to family background. People with imposter feeling may lack of family support and be strictly controlled by family rules (Clance, P. R. & Langford, J., 1993). Meanwhile, as shown in Sonnak and Towell’s finding (2011), imposter syndrome was predicted by perceived parental control or overprotection. Under the strict control of family rules, people are hard to develop self-confidence and have limited freedom to do decisions. There are also researches showing that authoritarian parents would blame academic failure on children’s lack of effort (Rego.T, 2015). Therefore, it is possible for children to self-blame, set high requirement for themselves, and don’t believe the achievements they have is out of their own efforts. Ultimately, they would attribute the accomplishments to external factors.


  Sample We sampled 76 students, and they are all secondary students from China and study in domestic or foreign countries from Special A summer school. They are invited to finish the questionnaire.

  Materials we had printed questionnaire in hand and distributed them to students in summer school. The questionnaire is around 16 pages, double printed. It integrated all the surveys that students in research class used. The questionnaire has English version and Chinese version to help participants to have a better understanding of the survey.


  Combined Clance’s imposter syndrome scale with this survey, the more scores the respondent get, the more frequent and serious the Impostor Phenomenon is. Among the 76 participants, the mean of imposter syndrome characteristics total scores is 8.635, which shows the group of students has moderate imposter phenomenon characteristics. For the authoritarian level of parents, the effects are still moderate (the mean of authoritarian level of mother=6.92; the mean of authoritarian level of father=6.55). Among items in this survey, “attribute success to luck” is the most important variable that influences imposter syndrome. It has the highest mean of 3.07.

  The component matrix shows the loadings of nine variables on the three factors extracted. While in the rotated component matrix, specifically, the authoritarian father and authoritarian mother are loaded in two different factors.

  Then we do the correlation. In the correlation chart, we could see that the authority level of fathers is positively correlated with Imposter syndrome (r=0.252), while authority level of mother is not correlated with imposter syndrome.


  For the result, we could conclude that imposter syndrome and authority level of parents has moderate effect on students in Special A summer school. However, in the factor analysis, it shows that authoritarian parents are separated into father and mother, which shows that father and mother could have different effects on imposter syndrome. Furthermore, in the correlation, it seemed that father would results in children with imposter syndrome, but not mothers. It is against what traditional view that people would usually blame children’s education on mothers. In Chinese society, people usually relate mother to children’s development. However, the data shows that it is father who lead high pressure and anxiety to students.

  The research on imposter syndrome and authority level of parents in China could make contribution to studies about imposter syndrome. Also, it examines the cultural difference to see whether China would be different from other countries in this psychological phenomenon. Not only that, the result of this research may give a revelation for the education pattern of Chinese parents. The research could also break down traditional views that mothers are the resources of children’s pressure, and help people to think about the family roles differently.


  Rego, T. (2015). The Concept of Authoritative Parenting and Its Effects on Academic Achieveme nt. Journal of Psychology and Clinical Psychiatry. Vol 3

  Clance, P. R. & Langford, J. (1993). The Impostor Phenomenon: Recent Research Findings Regarding Dynamics, Personality and Family Patterns and Their Implications for Treatment. Psychotherapy. Vol 30

  Bond, M. H., Leung, K., & Wan, K. (1982). The Social Impact of Self-Effacing Attributions: The Chinese Case. The Journal of Social Psychology, 118(2), 157-166. doi:10.1080/00224545.1982.9922794










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