Sense of Belonging and the Imposter Phenomenon among International College Students



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This study examined the association between the imposter phenomenon (IP) and a sense of belonging and planned to examine the differences between international students and domestic students on these psychological experiences. In addition, the study also explored the effect of the imposter phenomenon and sense of belonging on the subjective well-being of individuals by examining the students' self-reported happiness. I hypothesized that lower levels of belonging would be associated with higher feelings of being an imposter. The study was conducted with a total of 127 domestic students, including 65 first-generation students and 62 continuing-generation students, recruited from the University of Houston-Clear Lake Psychology Participant Pool. Participants completed the Social Connectedness and Social Assurance Scale (Lee & Robbins, 1995), the University Belonging Questionnaire (Slaten et al., 2017), the Clance IP Scale (1985), and the General Happiness Scale (Lyubomirsky & Lepper, 1999). No significant differences were found between the first-generation students and continuing-generation students except for subjective happiness, with first-generation students reporting less happiness than their peers. Across all participants and consistent with my hypotheses, I found a significant negative correlation between belonging and imposter phenomenon, and between subjective happiness and imposter phenomenon. The results suggest that students who feel more belonging are also more likely to feel happy and less likely to feel like an imposter, reminding us of the importance for universities to cultivate a sense of belonging for their students.



Sense of belonging, imposter phenomenon, happiness