Imposter syndrome among Russian students: The link between perfectionism and psychological distress
Imposter syndrome is feeling incompetent despite evidence of competence. It is characterized by the inability to internalize one's status and success, which causes much emotional distress. People with imposter syndrome fear that others will eventually find out that they are frauds and thus feel that they do not belong in their academic or working environment despite objective qualifications, achievements, and accomplishments. Perfectionism has been linked to imposter syndrome due to a tendency to focus on one's inadequacies. In this study, participants were 169 Russian college students. Mediating and moderating effects of imposter syndrome on the link between perfectionism and psychological distress were examined. Results indicated that imposter syndrome fully mediated the link between perfectionism and anxiety, whereas it served as a partial mediator between perfectionism and depression. A significant moderation effect of imposter syndrome was found between the link of perfectionism and depressive mood. In sum, it appears that if a person does not fall into the imposter mindset, the positive link between perfectionistic discrepancy and depression no longer exists. Results of this study identify imposter syndrome as a point of intervention to prevent depression caused by perfectionism.