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Previous research has consistently documented the importance of VIPs (mentors or important non-parental adults) in the lives of adolescents. Little is known, however, about whether VIPs play the same important roles across ethnic groups and whether VIPs remain influential when adolescents are older and involved in romantic relationships. The present study compared VIPs of 355 Hispanic, Asian, and European American older adolescents (age range = 17–19 years; M = 18.7 years; 62% female). Results indicated that, despite ethnic differences in their social capital, VIPs’ psychological characteristics (e.g., warmth and acceptance, depressive symptoms, and problem behavior) were similar. VIPs were perceived to have more positive psychological profiles than parents and peers, and in some cases, romantic partners. Moreover, with a few exceptions, the associations between VIP characteristics and adolescent adjustment (e.g., self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and problem behavior) were largely similar across ethnic groups. Finally, VIPs made unique contributions to adolescents’ self-esteem and problem behaviors even after the effects of romantic partners were considered. Implications of the findings are discussed.
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- The Role of Important Non-Parental Adults (VIPs) in the Lives of Older Adolescents: A Comparison of Three Ethnic Groups
- Springer US