Exploring the Role of Empathy and Exploration Behavior As Mediators of the Relationship Between Adolescent Trust in a Significant, Nonfamilial Adult and Prosocial Intentions and Volunteer Behavior
Previous research has demonstrated that an adolescent’s degree of trust in a significant, nonfamilial adult can significantly predict the degree of his/her prosocial intentions and volunteer behavior. The current study builds upon this research by examining empathy and exploration behavior as mediators in this relationship in order to elucidate some of the mechanisms by which this relationship occurs. Based on attachment theory and research, it was hypothesized that empathy and exploration behavior would partially mediate the prediction of prosocial intentions and volunteer behavior from adolescent trust in significant, nonfamilial adults. Within this sample of 633 ethnically diverse, lower SES, Los Angeles high school students for whom community service was not required by school, bootstrapping analyses revealed that empathy partially mediated the prediction of prosocial intentions and mediated the prediction of volunteer behavior from adolescent trust in a significant, nonfamilial adult. Exploration behavior partially mediated the prediction of volunteer behavior, but did not significantly mediate the prediction of prosocial intentions from adolescent trust in significant, nonfamilial adult. One additional exploratory analysis revealed that the degree of trust in a significant, nonfamilial adult did not significantly vary depending on the type of significant, nonfamilial adult. Results, limitations, future directions, and implications are discussed.
Doctor of Psychology in Clinical Psychology (PsyD)
King, Pamela E.
Adolescent psychology, Teenagers and adults, Attachment behavior in adolescence, Empathy