The Comparative Roles of Mentor Self-Efficacy and Empathy in Fostering Relationship Quality with Youth

Kelsey L. Deane, Ashley A. Boat, Shelley A. Haddock, Kimberly L. Henry, Toni S. Zimmerman, Lindsey M. Weiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Youth mentors’ efficacy beliefs and relational skills should both influence the quality of their connections with their mentees, but a lack of research based on large, dyadic and longitudinal samples limits understanding of how mentor characteristics impact relationship quality. This study used three staged and process-focused structural equation models to (1) investigate the mutually reinforcing effects of mentor self-efficacy and empathy over time; (2) compare the longitudinal effects of mid-program mentor efficacy and empathy on end of program mentor and mentee perceptions of relationship quality; and (3) test a similar comparative model using cross-sectional end of program assessments to account for developmental changes in these variables over time. The sample consisted of 664 college-age mentor (76.5% female; x¯ age = 24.5, range = 21–53; 23.5% non-White) and youth mentee (41% female; x¯ age = 14.1, range = 10–19; 41.9% non-White) dyads. Mentor empathy predicted mentor perceptions of relationship quality at both time points and mentee perceptions at the end of the program. Mentor efficacy only predicted mentor reported relationship quality at the end of the program. The findings emphasize the importance of investing in empathy training for mentors to support both partners’ positive evaluation of the relationship. Program support to increase mentor self-efficacy should also have added value for mentors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)805-819
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Youth and Adolescence
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The larger research project was generously supported by the William T. Grant Foundation. Open Access funding enabled and organized by CAUL and its Member Institutions.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Mentor empathy
  • Mentoring relationship quality
  • Mentoring self-efficacy
  • Youth mentoring
  • Self Efficacy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Empathy
  • Mentors
  • Young Adult
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Program Evaluation
  • Mentoring

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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