The Cognitive Characteristics of Mediator's Decision Making: Beyond the Dichotomy of Styles - The Devil Is in the Details
11 Pages Posted: 1 Jun 2014 Last revised: 7 Jan 2018
Date Written: August 1, 2012
Cognitive processes are key to understanding experts’ decisions. In mediation, stylistic dichotomy might conceal the multiple factors shaping mediators’ decisions. To reveal these factors, we systematically examined the explicit and implicit challenges of mediators’ schema, the tensions emerging when a mediators’ schema meets a complex reality, and the ways mediators choose to handle their perceived challenges. We analyzed the work of eight mediators out of twenty-two who participated in the study. Most were highly experienced mediators who came to our lab. All mediated the same simulated conflict enacted by two female disputants. All sessions were observed, videotaped and then assessed through multiple measures from 3 viewpoints: the mediators, the disputants, and three independent observers. A special effort was made to capture the cognitive aspects of mediators’ decisions and compare them with their actual behaviors. In the dynamic mediation interaction, mediators often reacted unconsciously and intuitively. Consistent with mediation research, mediators explicitly presented themselves as stylistically eclectic but most were observed behaving with little stylistic and behavioral flexibility. Mediators’ implicit schema varied from simple to complex. Two universal mechanisms of coping with the stresses of the mediation role were identified -- flexibility and reflection. Greater cognitive and behavioral flexibility, as well as reflective capacity, were detected in mediators with a complex schema, and they seem to relate to higher competency and better intervention quality than those with a simple schema.
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