Fear of Success, Imposter Phenomenon, Academic Achievement, and Language Proficiency among some Iranian EFL Learners: a correlational study

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 Fear of Success, Imposter  Phenomenon, Academic Achievement, and Language Proficiency among  some Iranian EFL Learners: a correlational study


Rahman Sahragard & Afsaneh Baharloo


Bio Data:

Rahman Sahragard is assistant professor in Applied Linguistics. Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics at Shiraz University, Shiraz, Iran. He teaches Sociolinguistics, Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics, Research Methods, and Materials Development at postgraduate level.

Afsaneh Baharloo is an English language instructor. She obtained her BA and MA degrees in English literature and ELT respectively from Shiraz University. She teaches English at both private and state universities.


This study was an endeavor to investigate the relationship of Iranian EFL learners’ fear of success and imposter phenomenon with their academic achievement and language proficiency. To achieve the objectives of the study three data gathering instruments were used. The Fear of Success (FOS) Scale of Zuckerman and Allison (1976) was utilized to measure the students’ degree of fear of success. Furthermore, the Imposter Phenomenon questionnaire developed by Harvey (1982) was employed. The third instrument was a truncated version of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to measure the participants’ language proficiency level. In order to collect the necessary data, the instruments were given to 151 female and male college students majoring in English Literature at Shiraz University. These participants were conveniently sampled. Then the obtained data underwent certain statistical procedures to determine the relationship of fear of success, imposter phenomenon, academic achievement and language proficiency with each other and specify the role of gender and years of university study in each variable. The analysis of the data revealed that there are significant positive relationships between fear of success and imposter phenomenon, as well as, language proficiency and academic achievement. But the findings of this study showed that learners’ fear of success and imposter phenomenon did not correlate with their language proficiency and academic achievement significantly. Moreover, the results of the independent t-tests indicated that male and female participants’ performances on the three instruments did not differ significantly. In addition, one-way ANOVAs which were run to determine the impact of academic level on each of the variables understudy revealed that seniors outperformed the other levels on their language proficiency. Besides, the findings indicated that juniors significantly differ from the other three groups in terms of their academic achievement. But the results showed that, in this study, students’ fear of success and imposter phenomenon were not affected by their academic level significantly.

Key words: Fear of success, Imposter phenomenon, Language proficiency, Academic achievement


Category: 2009