Creighton University School of Law – Werner Institute for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution
Griffith University Law School
February 14, 2014
Forthcoming, International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution
Mediation is a process wherein a third party, or mediator, attempts to assist two conflicting parties in dealing with their dispute. Research has identified party trust in the mediator as a key element required for mediator effectiveness. In online video-based mediation, the addition of technology to the mix poses both challenges and opportunities to the capacity of the mediator to build trust with the parties through nonverbal communication. While authors researching the field of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) have often focused on trust, their work has typically targeted text-based processes. As ODR embraces video-based processes, nonverbal communication becomes more salient. Nonverbal communication research has identified examples of specific actions that can contribute to trust. This paper combines that research with current scholarship on trust in mediation and on nonverbal communication in mediation, to map out the landscape mediators face while seeking to build trust through nonverbal communication in online video-based mediation. Suggestions for future research and implications for practice are noted, holding relevance to researchers and practitioners in any field in which trust, nonverbal communication and technology converge.