Marrying Positive Psychology to Mediation - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 62, No. 4
Jeffrey L. McClellan is an administrator, teacher, trainer, counselor, and advisor at Utah Valley State College in Orem, Utah. He is currently completing a Ph.D. in Leadership Studies from Gonzaga University. His research interests are focused on the process of managing conflict as a means of fostering personal, interpersonal, and organizational growth and change.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Positive analyses of mediation have been found in numerous studies of divorce mediation, community mediation, school mediation, parent-child mediation and organizational/labor mediation.1 In a recent survey, even corporate counsel have said that mediation is their favorite process.2
Researchers of mediation in the criminal context have found that mediation has performed extremely well on a number of satisfaction scales, some of which are: whether the system was fair, whether the case was handled satisfactorily, whether the parties had an opportunity to tell their story, whether the parties’ opinions were adequately considered, whether the judge or mediator was fair, whether the offender was held accountable, whether an apology or offering of forgiveness was given, whether the outcome was fair, and whether the outcome was considered to be satisfactory.
According to Barton Poulson, who reviewed the available empirical research on victim-offender mediation, victims said mediation “outperformed” courts on every issue except consideration of opinion, while offenders said mediation outperformed courts on all issues except satisfaction with the outcome. In no case did courts perform better than mediation.3
The successes of mediation are closely tied to the strength of the traditional mediation process, which invites the parties to “separate the people from the problem,” encourages them to work “side by side, attacking the problem, not each other,” and focuses not on positional bargaining, but on satisfying “underlying interests.”4