Arizona State University (ASU) – Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Dispute Resolution Magazine, Vol. 7, p. 35, Winter 2001
This article reports findings from four empirical studies of mediation in civil and domestic relations cases that examined the effect of mediator style on parties’ perceptions of mediation. The mediator’s encouraging the parties to express their feelings and summarizing what the parties said had by far the strongest and most consistently positive effects on parties’ perceptions. If the mediator evaluated the merits of the case and made some suggestions about possible settlements, the parties generally had more favorable perceptions of mediation. But if the mediator recommended a specific settlement, parties felt pressured to settle and thought the mediation process was less fair and the mediator was less neutral. When mediators kept silent about their views of the case, parties’ perceptions were generally neither enhanced nor diminished. Overall, similar patterns of findings were observed in both civil and domestic relations mediation.