Biases and Rationality in the Mediation Process

  • Kevin Gibson
  • Leigh Thompson
  • Max H. Bazerman
Part of the Social Psychological Applications to Social Issues book series (SPAS, volume 3)


The primary goal of this chapter is to provide a prescriptive framework for the mediation process based upon existing descriptive research. We believe there is a chasm between current dispute resolution research and the mediation practitioner that is similar to the one between negotiation researchers and practitioners up until the early 1980s. Negotiation research then had two major, unrelated directions: the game-theoretic (economic) perspective and the social-psychological perspective. The game-theoretic perspective assumed that negotiators were rational and developed their prescriptions based upon this assumption. Meanwhile, the social-psychological perspective described the interaction of negotiators, dispositional characteristics, and situational influences. The economic models offered untested theoretical prescriptions based on an unrealistic set of expectations of the rationality of decision makers, while descriptive models lacked the insight necessary to tell negotiators how to change their behavior. Thus descriptions lacked prescriptive value and prescriptions were not based on evidence.


Organizational Behavior Dispute Resolution Information Acquisition Mediation Process Human Decision Process 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin Gibson
    • 1
  • Leigh Thompson
    • 2
  • Max H. Bazerman
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of ColoradoBoulderUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  3. 3.J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of ManagementNorthwestern UniversityEvanstonUSA

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