Mentoring is a widely regarded faculty development strategy in academic medicine. However, the lack of understanding about mentoring relationship dynamics limits effective recruitment, implementation, and evaluation. Despite decades of publications describing adult mentoring initiatives, few studies examine personality influence in mentoring relationships. This scoping review examined the extent, range, and nature of the research on personality matching in mentoring relationships, and identified research gaps in the literature.
Scoping review methodology guided a search of six databases representing higher education, health sciences education, and professional contexts where mentoring is used. Consistent with the inclusive approach of a scoping review, authors included academic papers and other article types.
The scoping review yielded 39 articles. Literature mostly originated in the United States, publication sources represented multiple disciplines, and the context for the majority of articles was the workplace. The most common publication type was a research report. Although all articles addressed personality or mentoring, only three articles examined personality matching and its contribution to the mentoring relationship. Finally, although the Big Five personality traits were cited in multiple studies, other personality frameworks were used.
Academic medicine expends resources developing and supporting mentoring programs but there remains limited understanding of how best to identify and match mentors and protégés. Further understanding of the role of joint and unique personality traits in academic medicine mentoring relationships seems necessary, if the field continues to invest, time, money, and resources for mentoring programs.