Like a lot of ADR researchers, I’m always interested to know what really happens in the black box that is the mediation session. So, when someone pries the box open to look inside, my eyes light up. Researchers have begun using conversation analysis to uncover what happens in mediation that leads to successful outcomes. (Mary Novak wrote about another example of this fascinating research method before in this blog.) The latest contribution to this research comes from Norway, with a study of 154 custody mediations.
The study by Peder Kjøs, Odd Arne Tjersland and Katrina Roen, described in “The Mediation Window: Regulation of Argumentation and Affect in Custody Mediation,” (Journal of Divorce & Remarriage, Vol 55, Issue 7, pp 527-538), focused on the 38 cases that were considered to be high-conflict. In those cases, successful mediators were found to control the course of the conversation and effectively move it between emotional content and factual content. This contrasts with the actions of the mediators in the unsuccessful mediations. Those mediators tended to steer away from emotional issues and focus more on factual ones. (more…)