Mentoring highly aggressive children: Pre-post changes in mentors' attitudes, personality, and attachment tendencies

Melissa A. Faith, Samuel E. Fiala, Timothy A. Cavell, Jan N. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


This study examined the degree to which mentoring highly aggressive children was associated with changes in mentors' attitudes, personality, and attachment tendencies. Participants were 102 college students who each mentored an aggressive, high-risk child across three academic semesters (spring, fall, spring). We examined pre- to post-mentoring changes in attitudes about mentoring efficacy and future parenting, Big Five personality characteristics, and attachment tendencies. Mentors also rated the impact of the mentoring relationship in their lives, and both mentors and mentees rated support of the mentoring relationship. Results indicated a statistically significant decrease over time in mentors' ratings of selfefficacy, openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and agreeableness. These findings held even when controlling for ratings of relationship impact. However, mentors who rated the mentoring relationship as supportive tended to experience increased openness, conscientiousness, and agreeableness and less attachment-related avoidance over time. Child-rated support negatively predicted mentors' post-mentoring attitudes toward future parenting. Discussed are the potential costs of mentoring highly aggressive children and strategies that could help increase benefits to mentors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-270
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Primary Prevention
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - Dec 2011


  • Aggression
  • Children
  • Mentoring
  • Volunteer

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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