A Study to Determine the Incidence and Relationship of Demographic Variables and Self-Esteem to The Impostor Phenomenon Among Nurse Educators

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Anna Brock

Advisor Department



In 1974, Dr. Pauline Clance & Dr. Suzanne Imes introduced the phrase, The Impostor Phenomenon, which refers to persistent feelings of fakery experienced by successful persons. It is a label referring to believing that one is fooling others into believing that they are smarter or more competent than one really is. The purpose of this study was to determine if any statistically significant relationships exist between the impostor phenomenon and self-esteem and the relationships of age, gender, rank, years as faculty, tenure and highest degree achieved and the impostor phenomenon and self-steem in nurse educators. The research design was a correlational design consisting of the administration of three surveys: Demographic survey, The Clance Impostor Phenomenon Scale, and The Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale to faculty employed in BSN or higher degree nursing programs. Based on the theoretical framework of Benner's Novice to Expert theory, the study surveyed 114 nurse educators to determine whether nurse educators have increased impostor characteristics at the beginning of their careers that improves with time and experience and whether the existence of the impostor phenomenon in nurse educators is directly related to self-esteem issues. There was no significant difference between the impostor phenomenon and self-esteem in nurse educators. There was no significant relationship between the demographic variables and the impostor phenomenon and self-esteem in nurse educators. A sample mortality may have resulted due to a biased sample. The majority of the sample were doctorally prepared, experienced, and older females; statistically not supported by national data. These findings could support Benner's theory but a larger and more evenly distributed sample of participants is warranted. Recommendations for this study include: to replicate the study with a larger sample that would be more inclusive of junior ranks, to conduct a study to compare impostor phenomenon and self-esteem between novice to experts by gender, to explore how self-professed impostors compensate for the ill effects of the syndrome and further study of mentoring for impostors.