College of Science and Health Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

Summer 8-21-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kathryn Grant, PhD

Second Advisor

Bernadette Sanchez, PhD

Third Advisor

Jocelyn Carter, PhD


Mentoring programs are a popular approach for supporting low-income youth by providing them with an adult mentor who is intended to be a positive role model and fulfill unmet attachment needs. Low-income youth who become mentees are often understood through an attachment lens and treated as the focus of any mentoring intervention. Although significant research has been devoted to understanding the impact of the mentoring relationship on mentees, the function of the mentoring relationship for mentees remains unclear. Some studies have found direct effects of the mentoring relationship on mentee emotional and behavioral outcomes, while other studies have suggested indirect effects via improvements to other relationships. Additionally, research has shown that the role of mentee characteristics is also important to consider in the evaluation of the mentoring relationship and its success, but the literature lacks integration of these interrelated variables. Whereas substantial evidence has been gathered on mentees, research is limited on mentors beyond match characteristics and mentee-related outcomes that continue to emphasize the mentee. Mentors are assumed to be competent and caring individuals with the capacity to form lasting relationships with their mentees if given some training, but mentors may carry similar relational vulnerabilities to their mentees. For college students, as they navigate new challenges of early adulthood and heightened mental health difficulties, attachment difficulties may become particularly pertinent.

This study views mentors similarly to mentees and seeks to build on the current literature on mentors and mentees by testing the pathways through which each population experiences change during the course of the mentoring relationship. It is hypothesized that 1) Mentees/ors will demonstrate a reciprocal relationship between internalizing problems and mentoring relationship quality, such that lower internalizing problems at baseline will predict higher mentoring relationship quality at three months and higher mentoring relationship quality will predict lower internalizing problems at subsequent timepoints, and 2) Mentees/ors will demonstrate a reciprocal relationship between interpersonal relationships and mentoring relationship quality, such that stronger interpersonal relationships at baseline will predict higher mentoring relationship quality at three months and higher mentoring relationship quality will predict stronger interpersonal relationships at subsequent timepoints. This study will also explore the following research question: In consideration of possible interdependence within the mentoring relationship, what patterns of influence exist between mentors and mentees on reports of mentoring relationship quality and other interpersonal relationships?

Participants included 80 undergraduate mentors (M age = 19.83, 76.3 percent female, 52.5 percent non-Hispanic White) and elementary aged mentees (M age = 10.61, 53.8 percent female, 91.3 percent Black) who were enrolled in a coping-based mentoring program between 2016 and 2020. This study used an adapted version of the Match Characteristics Questionnaire (MCQ) to assess mentee and mentor perceptions of quality of the mentoring relationship at three months, six months, and nine months (post-intervention). To assess mentor and mentee interpersonal relationships independent of the mentoring relationship (as a proxy for attachment), this study utilized three self-report measures of relational experiences with important adults at home, in school, or in the community, which were administered at baseline, three months, six months, and post-intervention. Lastly, the Internalizing Symptoms composite of the Behavioral Assessment System for Children (BASC) was used to assess emotional difficulties at baseline, three months, six months, and post-intervention. Cross-lagged panel models (CLPMs) were used to individually assess the hypothesized mentor and mentees pathways of change, while an exploratory Actor-Partner Interdependence Model (APIM) was used to explore possible dyadic effects of mentor and mentee pathways on each other.

Results of the mentee CLPMs provide support for the impact of mentees’ internalizing symptoms and interpersonal relationships on their perceptions of the mentoring relationship, consistent with prior mentee research. However, the hypothesis that higher mentoring relationship quality would be associated with improved internalizing symptoms and other interpersonal relationships was not supported. Due to mentor sample size limitations, none of the assessed CLPMs were identifiable. Alternatively, multiple regressions were conducted for the mentor data which suggested mentors who reported higher internalizing problems at baseline viewed the mentoring relationship more negatively at three months. In terms of dyadic analyses, results of the APIM suggested a possible association between higher mentor ratings of the mentoring relationship and subsequently lower mentee ratings of their other interpersonal relationships. Taken together, these findings highlight the need for dyadic perspectives in future mentoring research to better understand what mentees and mentors contribute to and receive from the mentoring relationship, as well as how programs may improve support for both mentee and mentor needs.

SLP Collection