Abstract Background High pain self-efficacy and low kinesiophobia seem related to a better prognosis in patients complaining of low back pain (LBP). The literature stresses the potential negative effects of anatomical defect diagnosis (e.g. lumbar spondylolisthesis) on the psychological profile. The aim of this study is to investigate the relationships between awareness of having a spondylolisthesis, pain self-efficacy and kinesiophobia. Methods A secondary retrospective analysis was done. Ninety-eight subjects with subacute and chronic LBP were included: 49 subjects with diagnosed symptomatic lumbar spondylolisthesis and 49 subjects with diagnosed non-specific LBP. The pain self-efficacy measured with the Pain Self-Efficacy Questionnaire and the fear of movement measured with the Tampa Scale of Kinesiophobia were considered variables to investigate, whereas diagnosis and demographic/clinical variables were considered predictors or potential confounders. Results By comparing the two groups, the awareness of having a spondylolisthesis did not significantly influence neither pain self-efficacy (p = 0.82), nor kinesiophobia (p = 0.75). Higher perceived pain reduces pain self-efficacy and increases kinesiophobia in both groups (p = 0.002 and p = 0,031 respectively). Conclusions It seems that the awareness of an anatomical defect as spondylolisthesis does not significantly affect the beliefs of carry out activities and movements despite the pain. Other studies with wider samples are required, to confirm these preliminary results.