The relationships among imposter phenomenon, burnout, and covitality

August 2023
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The mental health functioning of graduate students is subpar when compared with the general population (Evans et al., 2018). One issue that plagues graduate students’ mental health is burnout. A contributor to graduate student burnout is the experience of imposter phenomenon. Imposter phenomenon is an intraindividual phenomenon where individuals experience inadequacy (Clance and Imes, 1978). In terms of solutions, research has shown that positive psychological traits can foster overall wellness (Randolph, 2018). Covitality is defined as the “synergistic effect of positive mental health resulting from the interplay among multiple positive-psychological building blocks” (Furlong et al., 2013, p.3). In essence, covitality purports that the sum of positive psychological traits is greater than a single positive psychological trait. The purpose of the study was to determine whether covitality could moderate the relationship between imposter phenomenon and burnout. This study aimed to address the prevalence rates of imposter phenomenon, burnout, and covitality within the school psychology graduate student population and whether those experiences differed for individuals with marginalized racial identities. The results showed that school psychology graduate students indeed experience symptoms of burnout and imposter phenomenon. Further, the findings suggest that school psychology graduate students with marginalized racial identities experience more symptoms of imposter phenomenon than school psychology graduate students without marginalized identities, which is consistent with the research literature (e.g., Bernard et al., 2017; Cokley et al., 2013; Peteet et al., 2015). Although it does not appear that increasing levels of covitality is an effective means of intervention, researchers should continue to examine the interrelations among covitality, imposter phenomenon, and burnout in an effort to develop solutions that could be implemented in school psychology training programs.

Covitality; Burnout; Imposter Phenomenon