The long-term impact of natural mentoring relationships: A counterfactual analysis


Hagler, Matthew A. & Rhodes, Jean E. (2018). The long-term impact of natural mentoring relationships: A counterfactual analysis. American Journal of Community Psychology. vol. 62 (1-2) pp. 157-188


Previous research suggests that youth's natural mentoring relationships are associated with better academic, vocational, and psychosocial functioning. However, little is known about the extent to which the impact of mentoring endures beyond adolescence and early adulthood. Furthermore, most natural mentoring research is confounded by selection bias. In this study, we examined the long-term impact of mentoring using the nationally representative, longitudinal Add Health dataset. We conducted counterfactual analysis, a more stringent test of causality than regression-based approaches. Compared to their unmentored counterparts, adults (ages 33?42) who had a natural mentor during adolescence or emerging adulthood reported higher educational attainment, more time spent volunteering, and more close friends, after controlling for a range of confounding factors. However, outcomes differed when mentors were classified as ?strong ties? (e.g., grandparents, friends) or ?weak ties? (e.g., teachers, coaches, employers). Having a strong-tie mentor was associated with having more close friends and a lower income. In contrast, having a weak-tie mentor was associated with higher educational attainment, higher income, and more time spent volunteering. These findings suggest that natural mentoring relationships can exert lasting influence on young people's developmental trajectories, providing strong rationale for efforts to expand their availability and scope.



Natural mentoring Adulthood Midlife Counterfactual analysis Propensity score matching Weak ties

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Journal Article

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American Journal of Community Psychology


Hagler, Matthew A.
Rhodes, Jean E.

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