June Update: What’s New with Mentoring?

Hello from the research rock I currently live under!

I have spent a large portion of my time so working on my literature review which is a very time consuming process. So far, I have been compiling and analyzing all of the previous studies that have looked at the Add Health data. I have found that many of these studies were conducted with a very specific sample such as foster children, sexual minority youth and at-risk youth. Studies show that respondents who reported a mentoring relationship had reduced problem behavior (gang membership, hurting others in physical fights, risk taking), psychological well-being (heightened self-esteem, life satisfaction), and health (DuBois & Silverthorn, 2005). While this information is very valuable, in order to provide another perspective, my study will look at a broader population of young adults.

While I am looking at studies with both formal and natural mentors, I will be focusing on natural mentors for my thesis because those relationships are most prominent in the demographic I am studying (young adults ages 18-26 and 24-32).

I was excited to learn that many of these studies show that there is an effect between mentors and vocational outcomes. A main reason that natural mentors might be particularly helpful with the vocational transition during adulthood is because they provide experience-based guidance, specifically for adolescents starting their career.

In doing my research, I was relieved to learn that none of the current research looks at the effects of mentoring in conjunction with one’s perception of mentoring. This is a variable that is unique to my study and I am looking forward to seeing if there is a relationship.

 Want to know more about the benefits of natural mentors? Stay tuned for another update!


  1. Mary Grutta says:

    Thanks so much for the great questions Brittany. For the purposes of my study, I have defined a natural mentor as an “unrelated (non family member) adult who has an ongoing and positive impact on the life of a protege” (Miranda-Chan et. al., 2016). While their are benefits to both the informal and formal mentors, I am focusing on the informal (or natural) mentors for my project because those relationships occur more often in the demographic I am studying (young adults between 18-26 and 24-32). I really appreciate the book recommendation, I will definitely look into that.

  2. Hi Mary!

    Your project sounds very interesting, and I’m excited to see how it comes together over the next few months! Is there any specific definition of “natural mentors” that you’re using in your research? I’m wondering if this relationship has to be acknowledged as a mentor-mentee relationship, or how people come to perceive it as such, if it was not established through a formal mentorship program. Also, have you looked at how formal and natural mentorships differ in their benefits? I would be interested to know if one or the other is more successful or beneficial to one or the other. I would also recommend reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. It’s kind of a long read and the author gets pretty arrogant at times (in my opinion), but the chapters on mentorship, both formal and informal, may be useful for your research!