Date of Award

5-1-2012

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Chwalisz, Kathleen

Abstract

AN ABSRACT OF THE THESIS OF Greg Steinsdoerfer, for the Master of Arts degree in psychology, presented on October 25th, 2011, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. TITLE: QUALITY OF NATURAL MENTOR RELATIONSHIPS AND PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH OUTCOMES IN A RURAL AFRICAN HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT SAMPLE MAJOR PROFESSOR: Kathie, Chwalisz, Ph.D. In response to the general call of the American Psychological Association (APA) for more multicultural and multinational research (APA, 2002), this study is an examination of natural mentor relationships in a rural sub-Saharan African high school student sample. A total of 200 rural Zambian high school students completed a set of self-report questionnaires to test three hypotheses. First, those with a natural mentor were hypothesized to have significantly better psychological health outcomes than those without a natural mentor, as measured by the Rosenberg Self-Esteem scale (RSE), the General Health Questionnaire - 12 (GHQ-12), and the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Second, it was hypothesized that high school students with a natural mentor would report better health risk choices as measured by alcohol, smoking, drug, sexual activity, and bullying behavior. Finally, quality of the natural mentoring relationship (i.e., frequency of contact, emotional closeness, and longevity of the relationship) was hypothesized to be related to better psychological health outcomes. As hypothesized, sub-Saharan African high school students with a natural mentor reported significantly better psychological health outcomes on all measures than those who did not have a natural mentor. High school students with a natural mentor did not have significant differences in health choice behaviors, and the quality of the natural mentor relationship was not a significant predictor for psychological health. These findings have implications for prevention and intervention programs in rural community settings in Zambia. Implications and limitations of the study are discussed.

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