Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Clinical Psychology

First Advisor

Jean E. Rhodes

Second Advisor

Elizabeth B. Raposa

Third Advisor

Abbey Eisenhower


The current study examined the potential importance of early perceptions of parental emotional engagement on the functions that natural mentors serve for young adults. Participants included a subsample from a nationally representative, longitudinal study of adolescent health (Add Health). The subsample consisted of 2,408 young adults (55% female; 31% non-White), who were assessed in early adolescence (M=14.38, SD=1.55) and again in young adulthood (M=21.8, SD=1.8). Structural equation models controlling for socioeconomic status (SES), youth biological sex, and race and ethnicity showed that mentors serve different functions for young adults based on their earlier perceptions of emotional engagement with their parents. More specifically, young adults who experienced low emotional engagement with their parents during early adolescence tended to turn to their mentors for a range of non-emotionally nurturing compensatory functions, including guidance/advice-giving, self-life development, and help navigating school and the workplace, whereas young adults with high emotional engagement drew on their mentors for emotional nurturance, as well as practical functions Additional analyses demonstrated the importance of the interrelations between perceptions of parental emotional engagement, mentor social role (i.e., adult relative, community member), mentor function, and SES.


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