Methods: Participants included 340 college student mentors randomly assigned to youth grades 3-8 in a nationwide mentoring program. Mentors provided baseline information about their mentoring motivations and expectations about the relationship. Both youth and mentors completed follow-up surveys about relationship quality (Fraley et al., 2011; Rhodes et al., 2014) after one academic year of mentoring.
Results: Linear regression analyses showed that, when co-varying for mentor demographic variables, mentors with more negative expectations about mentoring at baseline (e.g., “I think my mentee will never like me”) reported more negative perceptions of quality (b = -.112, SE = .050, < .05), as well as greater avoidance (b = .227, SE = .085, p < .01) and anxiety (b = .210, SE = -.117, p < .10) in the mentor-youth relationship at follow-up. Interestingly, these negative expectations did not predict youth perceptions. Positive mentor expectations at baseline (e.g., “I think my mentee will want my help right away) did not predict mentor or youth perceptions of the relationship (all p's > 0.10).
Mentors who endorsed being motivated by civic responsibility at baseline (e.g., “I want to give back to society”), had marginally more positive perceptions of the mentor-youth relationship quality (b = .294, SE = .171, p < .10), less avoidance (b = -.497, SE = .287, p < .10), and less anxiety (b = -.769, SE = .390, p < .10) within the mentor-youth relationship at follow-up, but their mentees reported higher avoidance (b = .585, SE = .315, p <. 10). Mentors motivated by social-emotional factors (e.g., “I will feel less lonely”) had mentees who reported marginally higher avoidance in the mentor-youth relationship at follow-up (b = .223, SE = .128, p < .10), despite these youth having more positive perceptions of the relationship overall (b = -.139, SE = .062, p < .05). Finally, mentors motivated by over-involvement with children (e.g., “It will make me feel important”) reported lower perceptions (b = -.161, SE = .059, p < .01), and their mentees also reported less positive perceptions of the relationship (b = -.161, SE = .059, p < .01) at follow-up.
Conclusions: Findings have important implications for mentor recruitment and training procedures, as well as mentor support, in youth mentoring programs, particularly those that utilize college student mentors.