Term of Award

Spring 2022

Degree Name

Master of Science in Experimental Psychology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Psychology

Committee Chair

Amy Hackney

Committee Member 1

Karen Naufel

Committee Member 2

Nick Holtzman


Despite the growing education levels of Black women, negative stereotypes of Black women persist and undermine the confidence of African American/Black college women in the classroom. Experimental evidence supports that stereotype threat, the fear of confirming a negative stereotype about one’s group when being evaluated by others, undermines the performance of high achieving Black students (Steele & Aronson, 1995). Research has found the impostor phenomenon to be experienced as thoughts of inauthenticity, in conjunction with fear of failure and being exposed as a fraud (Ibrahim et al., 2020). Therefore, being continuously exposed to situations that create feelings of state inauthenticity, such as situations that create stereotype threat, could lead individuals to experience trait-like impostor fears. The primary purpose of the current research is to investigate a social-environmental causal factor of state impostor feelings in two samples of Black college women: stereotype threat. A second goal of the current research is to create original items from a culturally informed model of impostor feelings to assess trait levels of impostorism in two samples of Black female college students. Black female college students from a predominantly white institution (PWI) and a historically black college or university (HBCU) participated in this study. Due to the small sample size (N = 26), the current research results cannot be used to draw any conclusions about the effects of stereotype threat on state inauthenticity and state anxiety. However, the new culturally informed impostor items had high internal consistency (α = .81), showed promise of accurately measuring impostorism, and will contribute to creating a more culturally informed impostor feelings measure. Overall, this research will contribute to the body of work concerning Black women in college struggling with anxiety, experiencing impostor phenomenon, and coping with stereotype threat.

OCLC Number


Research Data and Supplementary Material