Special Report - Alternative Dispute Resolution

ADR: Mediation, Neuroscience And Your Brain

We asked hundreds of Georgia neutrals about their ADR practices in our second annual survey. Here are the results.

, Daily Report


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What's being said

  • Jeannette Twomey, Mediator, Vienna, VA

    There is another automatic brain function that frequently complicates or obstructs collaboration and problem-solving. Social scientists call it "reactive devaluation", the irrational impulse to reject an offer primarily because of its source. Parties to a dispute overlook good settlement opportunities because this powerful cognitive bias pushes objective analysis to the sidelines. Parties should judge a proposal according to how well it meets their needs, not according to who makes it.
    Conflict resolution and negotiation literature suggest ways to overcome the obstacle of "reactive devaluation" in a skeptical party: 1) The mediator can introduce the proposal, giving it a neutral source. 2) The mediator can explain the automatic human tendency to attach excessive negativity to the opposition's proposals. 3) The mediator can employ "appreciative inquiry" (asking questions about past experiences that reveal positive behavior of the other party).

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