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Effect of Third-Party Behavior on Disputant Satisfaction: Implications for a Theory of Procedural Justice

NCJ Number
L Heuer; S Penrod
Date Published
59 pages
Correlational studies conducted in both industrial and legal settings have found that disputants prefer mediation over arbitration as a dispute resolution procedure.
This study investigates two possible explanations for this finding. The first study examines the effect of disputant decision control on disputant satisfaction with dispute resolution procedures and outcomes. Subjects bargained until impasse followed by mediation or arbitration. Dependent measures included disputant satisfaction with the procedure, the outcome, the third party, the bargaining opponent, and compliance with the final decision. Results indicated that decision control had minimal impact on disputant evaluations of procedures and outcomes. It is argued that previous research showing a preference for mediation over arbitration may be the result of other variables often confounded with decision control in field settings. The influence of outcome prediction on disputants' anxiety while awaiting an arbitrator's decision, and on their postdecision satisfaction with dispute resolution procedures and outcomes, was examined in a second experiment. No evidence was found to support the hypothesis that anticipatory anxiety is affected by outcome prediction. However, postdecision satisfaction with outcomes and decisionmakers was found to be greater when those outcomes were correctly predicted that when prediction was absent, and greater when prediction was absent than when outcomes were incorrectly predicted. 7 tables, 1 figure and approximately 50 references. (Author abstract modified)


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