First Advisor

Thomas Keller

Term of Graduation

Winter 2024

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Social Work and Social Research


Social Work




ethnocultural empathy, youth mentoring



Physical Description

1 online resource (xi, 166 pages)


Given the positive youth outcomes associated with participation in mentoring programs, there is growing interest to explore factors associated with mentoring relationship quality and duration in formal youth mentoring programs. In comparison to the majority of volunteer mentors, many young people participating in formal mentoring programs are of a racial-ethnic minority group and tend to be economically disadvantaged. This study investigates factors associated with these socio-cultural background differences between mentors and mentees. More specifically, this study investigates the association between a mentor's level of ethnocultural empathy, as reflected in empathic perspective-taking and acceptance of cultural differences, and the quality and duration of the mentoring relationship. Further, the study investigates whether this association is moderated by a mentor's race/ethnicity, racial concordance within the match, and income concordance within the match. The study sample and data are from a larger mixed method longitudinal study (The Study to Analyze Relationships (STAR) project) primarily focused on analyzing reasons for match closures. A total of 354 mentor-mentee dyads were included in this study. The primary analyses consisted of bivariate, multiple, and logistic regressions, and of an event history analysis using Cox regression with the survival function.

Based on the core study findings, mentor ethnocultural empathy, particularly empathic perspective-taking, is an important factor positively associated with a mentor's perception and experience of the strength (quality) of the mentoring relationship. This association remained consistent even after introducing the moderator of mentor race/ethnicity. When introducing the moderator of racial concordance in the match, mentor ethnocultural empathy also remained positively associated with the quality of the relationship as reported by the mentor. Interestingly, when examining the same relationships from the youth perspective, mentor ethnocultural empathy, specifically empathic perspective-taking was moderated by the indicator for cross-race vs same-race matches. For youth in cross-race matches, this relationship was positive, when compared to youth in same-race matches. This study underscores the complexity of mentoring relationships and the need to further explore and examine mentor-mentee relationship dynamics. The implications of these findings for future research and practice are discussed to address potential needs surrounding cultural sensitivity/humility, equity, and social justice, as well as with mentor recruitment, screening, training and with providing ongoing support to yield positive bonds with mentees that can foster better quality mentoring relationships.


© 2024 Miriam Miranda-Díaz

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This project was supported by Grant #2012-MU-FX-0001 awarded to Thomas Keller and Renée Spencer by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice.

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