Analyzing The Fear of Incomplete Scale According to Erik Erikson

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Words: 1797 |

Pages: 4|

9 min read

Published: Nov 22, 2018

Words: 1797|Pages: 4|9 min read

Published: Nov 22, 2018

Fluctuating Fears of Incompetence

Erik Erikson developed the idea of competence as a result of adequately learning to cope with the environment through industriousness and inferiority. The Fear of Appearing Incompetent Scale was published in the 1970’s to assess how well this crisis was handled in the respondent’s childhood. The 36 questions put scorers in three ranges, signifying self-aware, average, and apprehensive aspects of personality. I believe my score did a decent job assessing my fears of incompetence, although I may be a special circumstance that can not be 100% accurately judged by the questionnaire. I believe that Erikson and I would agree that my sense of self-awareness and self-confidence is rooted in the relationship between my mother and school administrators.

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The Fear of Appearing Incompetent Scale is based on Erik Erikson’s theory of the psychosocial crises of life, specifically the industriousness versus inferiority stage. Erikson theorized that everyone goes through these 8 crises which, if properly resolved by learning both the adaptive and maladaptive coping techniques (relying more on the positive approaches,) establishes a basic strength specific to the crisis. If a crisis is not sufficiently resolved and the ego only resorts to adaptive or maladaptive attitudes basic weaknesses may arise, this is called maldevelopment. Basic weaknesses may either be maladaptive, where only positive tendencies are presented, or malignant, where only negative tendencies are displayed.

At about ages 6 to 12 the child will enter a period of latency and “forgets, or rather sublimates, the necessity to “make” people by direct attack or to become papa and mama in a hurry” (Erikson, 1950). The outcome of this crisis, along with the three prior crises, depends on others rather than the child; “the attitudes and behaviors of parents and teachers largely determine how children perceive themselves to be developing…” (Schultz, 2013) With positive reinforcement and praise the basic strength of competence emerges. If the development is unbalanced by scolding, ridicule, and rejection from influential outside sources the child is “likely to develop feelings of inferiority and inadequacy” (Schultz, 2013). Other examples of maldevelopment in this psychosocial stage include narrow virtuosity and inertia.

The Fear of Appearing Incompetent Scale, created by Lawrence R. Good and Katherine C. Good is a personality questionnaire made up of 36 true or false questions that measures how anxious a person generally is about seeming, feeling, or being incompetent. The scores are split in 3 ranges; 0-9 (low scorers), 13-22 (average scorers), and 23-36 (high scorers.) Low scorers are said to hardly worry about feeling incompetent; these people are most likely confident, self-aware, and possibly even “self-actualized”, proposing “a high level of self-acceptance and self-esteem” (Good & Good, 1973). Average scorers typically have a balance between confidence and apprehension in their abilities, feeling a mixture of competence and incompetence. High scorers on this personality test generally spend a significant amount of time in fear of their competence (or lack of) in most situations although certain circumstances may produce stronger feelings reactions. These scorers usually fear acting spontaneously in fear of the greater risk of making a mistake and struggle to accept themselves. The authors did note that scores at the low end of this division could have possibly been an average scorer who’s self-doubt was temporarily inflated by stress.

To score this test the respondent must compare their true or false answers to the answers provided on the scoring sheet and note how many correlate, each worth one point. For example, on question number one “I would never worry about the possibility of being judged a fool in some activities” both my answer sheet and the scoring sheet had false, adding 1 point to my overall score. The total score I received on this test was 9, which puts me in the 0-12 low scorer’s category. According to this personality test I am hardly ever concerned with my competence and do not worry about looking silly or ignorant going into an activity.

As I previously declared, I scored a 9 on this personality questionnaire, labeling me as a low scorer. This signifies that I am most likely viewed as confident and know my strengths and weaknesses. The score reflects some aspects of my personality very well, especially in the workplace. At a job, disregarding when I am a new employee in training, I feel very confident in my abilities to get things done and dislike aide with a task unless I need and ask for it. An example of this would be a day I was working in the Noyer Complex’s dishroom when a coworker would not stop trying to help me. I went from task to task and I felt like he was right behind me trying to do whatever I was doing at every turn, which began to really frustrate me. Eventually I snapped and told him I felt like I might as well go home if he was going to do my job for me, resulting in him letting me do my job without interruption.

Another example of a time reflecting my score would be my time spent on World of Warcraft-a game I was very skilled at. I put a lot of effort into this video game and was very dedicated to it for a long time. Although I could play both styles of combat (Player versus Player and Player versus Enemy) capably, I focused mostly on Player versus Player or PvP, where interaction among players was highest. Hopeful in my skills and very self-assured, I spent a great deal of time teaching others or helping others get things they needed, such as different currencies. An activity I participated in a lot was called the Arena, where you could fight against other small teams of players for a certain type of in-game currency. A very confident adolescent version of myself would trade gold (another in-game currency) to “carry” (win without help) the other participant(s).

Erik Erikson would say that the self-awareness and self-confidence I have derives from my childhood, specifically around ages 6-12 when I battled the industriousness versus inferiority crisis. Around this age, for the most part, I was living with my mother, who pushed me to work hard in school, explore sports, music, a foreign language, etc. I was involved in basketball, soccer, tee-ball, learning Spanish, and taking piano, guitar, drum, and singing lessons. I was in the top of my class at school and was involved in organizations such as 4-H and the Environmental Club. My mother’s authoritative parenting style was filled with love, praise, and encouragement. Erikson stated that “literate people...must prepare the child by teaching him...the widest possible basic education for the greatest number of possible careers” (Erikson, 1950) and I believe he would agree that my mom succeeded.

School provided another relevant source of influence, where learning to work with others, produce efficient work, and efficient study habits are central ways of obtaining praise and satisfaction. All of my elementary school teachers played a role in my achieving of the basic strength competence, broadening my knowledge and pushing me to develop more. If my home and school environment had not been so supportive, open, and fruitful, I would have become maldeveloped, scored high on the personality questionnaire, and would suffer from a sense of inferiority.

The Fear of Appearing Incompetent Scale was published in the 1970’s, a time that “individualism and self-expression were important for people.” (1970’s, 2004) Fashions were bold, with bright colors, flared pants, and big hair. The music industry was dominated by disco, punk, and rock through artists such as The Bee Gees, David Bowie, Pink Floyd, and Blondie. The Vietnam War, PONG, and Steve Jobs were all noteworthy influences of this decade. This personality scale ties in with this age of individuality, creativity, peace, and expression very well and could have been convenient for job applications, scholarship applications, and getting to know yourself. Today, the scale could still be helpful in job applications because it would provide the employer with an idea of the applicant’s general confidence level.

I believe this assessment could be very useful in areas such as job applications to give insight into how a person will act on the job. I found the assessment enjoyable to take but I felt that it could not truly scale myself personally. The only thing I did not appreciate about the assessment was that the wording was very strict in some questions, for example question number 19 states “I would never worry…”. The word “never” is rigid, used frequently, and made it hard to answer questions that gave no leniency. I also feel it is a little audacious to say a low score illustrates a self-actualized person as I feel like there is more to self-actualization than self-esteem and self-awareness. As previously stated, I scored a 9 out of 36, which I feel fairly adequately represents my personality, but it is very situational. My whole life is filled with special circumstances so it is no surprise that I do not perfectly fit anywhere on the scale. I feel very socially incompetent and I believe it is because my mental development hit a brick wall when I moved into my father’s house around the age 10. I am always worried about my behaviors around other people, for example I hate to wear two earbuds because I worry I will be breathing too loud and will not be able to hear to correct myself.

On the other hand, I feel very confident in my abilities when it comes to things that I know a lot about, such as video games, working, or academics (specifically psychology.) I never worry about getting school work or job tasks done on time, I just do what needs to be done. I think a better explanation for the confidence I have, at least in the workplace, can be found in the work of Hans Eysenck and my high level of neuroticism on The Big Five scale.. High scorers on neuroticism tend to outwork low scorers in fast-paced and stressful environments; “neurotics seemed to function best in busy situations where they were forced to work harder.” (Schultz, 2013)

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A sense of competence derives from Erikson’s psychosocial crisis of industriousness versus inferiority. Lawrence R. Good and Katherine C. Good created the Fear of Appearing Incompetent Scale in 1973, using true or false questions to gauge how incompetent or competent the respondent feels. My score of 9 classifies me as a low scorer, indicating that I am confident in my abilities and aware of my strengths and weaknesses. This score correctly portrays me in a lot of situations but not all, which may be because of the disruption of development of this psychosocial stage when there was a shift in parental authority in my life.

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Analyzing the Fear of Incomplete Scale According to Erik Erikson. (2018, November 05). GradesFixer. Retrieved April 19, 2024, from
“Analyzing the Fear of Incomplete Scale According to Erik Erikson.” GradesFixer, 05 Nov. 2018,
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