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Research Alert: Cultural Intelligence and Ethnocentrism in Mentoring Relationships

AUGUST 29, 2017

Editor’s note: From time to time on the NMRC Blog we will cross-post announcements about new research studies on mentoring drawing from the research listserv run by NMRC Research Board Chair Dr. David DuBois. This is a snapshot about a recent study exploring the relationship between cultural intelligence and ethnocentrism in mentoring relationships.

A recent study published by Cheri A. Young, Badiah Haffejee, and David L. Corsun (May 2017) asks: Can one be ethnocentric and yet culturally intelligent at the same time? The researchers attempted to investigate the relationship between cultural intelligence and ethnocentrism in mentoring relationships, by analyzing data about mentoring relationships between primarily white, affluent, business school students who mentored refugees from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia who had been resettled in the United States.

Ethnocentrism is defined as “the evaluation of other cultures according to preconceptions originating in the standards and customs of one's own culture.” Meanwhile, cultural Intelligence or CQ refers to “people’s knowledge about other cultures, their behavioral skills to act and respond in a culturally-appropriate manner across cultures, and their motivation and self-efficacy to interact and learn about other cultures.”

Young, Haffejee, and Corsun’s study found that participation in an experimental training method involving diversified mentoring relationships, or relationships where the mentor’s age, class, race/ethnicity, culture, religion, language and citizenship were almost entirely different from that of the mentee, had a “buffering” effect on the mentors’ ethnocentrism. In other words, while participation in this experience didn’t reduce the mentors’ ethnocentrism, participants experienced less of an increase in ethnocentrism than individuals in the study’s control group.

Mentoring practitioners developing mentor training programs may find it helpful to keep ethnocentrism is mind as they seek to improve mentors’ cultural awareness and cultural intelligence when working with youth mentees. As the study notes, cultural intelligence and ethnocentrism are also important considerations for employers who may be interested in mentoring as a way of exposing employees to opportunities to increase their cultural intelligence and improve their interactions with diverse customers and partners in our increasingly global economy.

This article can be found here. You can join Dr. DuBois’ youth mentoring research and practice listserv by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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