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This study examined the effects of similarity, both actual (race and gender) and perceived, and amount of contact between mentor and protégé on the quality of mentor relationships. Mentor relationship quality was measured by liking, satisfaction, intended retention, and degree of psychosocial and instrumental functions experienced by the protégé. The participants were 104 summer intern protégés and their volunteer staff mentors employed at a large West coast media organization. Protégés were randomly assigned to one of two types of mentor pairings—same and different race mentors. Results indicate that liking, satisfaction, and contact with mentor were higher when protégés’ perceived themselves to be more similar to their mentors. Actual race pairing was related to protégés’ perceptions of the amount of career support and to mentors’ liking of protégés.
Ellen A. Ensher, Susan E. Murphy, Effects of Race, Gender, Perceived Similarity, and Contact on Mentor Relationships, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Volume 50, Issue 3, 1997, Pages 460-481.