A Mixed Methods Study of Impostor Phenomenon in a Hispanic Serving Institution

Olympia Caudillo, University of Texas at El Paso


Impostor phenomenon is a psychological experience where a highly talented individual doubts innate skills and accomplishments. Instead, success is attributed to factors other than intellectual ability, so the individual fears exposure as a fraud. Experiences of impostor phenomenon among students enrolled in Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSI) remains under-researched. This mixed-methods study aims to explore impostor phenomenon between doctoral students enrolled in a Hispanic Serving Institution based on existing research on impostor phenomenon, conducted in predominantly White institutions. The first phase of the study focuses on exploring impostor phenomenon in relation to doctoral students’ gender, type of program and generational status; the second phase explores how those same students describe their experiences with impostor phenomenon. The results serve to construct a theory of how impostor phenomenon manifests among doctoral students enrolled in a Hispanic Serving Institution. Eligible participants included doctoral students enrolled in the HSI. Purposeful sampling, based on demographic characteristics and Clance Impostor Scale (CIPS) scores, served to identify participants for the qualitative phase of the study. An online survey, consisting of a demographic questionnaire and the CIPS, was used to collect quantitative data. The CIPS is the most common psychometric instrument used in research to detect experiences of impostor phenomenon. Open-ended interviews served as the means to collect qualitative data. Quantitative data was analyzed using a three-factor analysis of covariance (ANCOVA), and qualitative data was analyzed using constructivist grounded theory. The quantitative results showed that impostor phenomenon was statistically insignificant at the HSI in relation to doctoral students’ gender, program of study and generational status, however impostor phenomenon was detected in participants’ responses. Numerous examples of statements containing elements of fake, discount, and luck were found in participants’ responses corroborating the existence of impostor phenomenon among participants. The results indicated that impostor phenomenon was not statistically significant, suggesting that at the HSI doctoral students share similar external experiences. Qualitative responses reveal varied experiences suggesting an internal conflict that may find expression as impostor phenomenon.

Subject Area

Higher education|Educational psychology|Hispanic American studies

Recommended Citation

Caudillo, Olympia, "A Mixed Methods Study of Impostor Phenomenon in a Hispanic Serving Institution" (2021). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI28547731.