Conflicts reach Brāv in a variety of ways. Conflicts may be self-referred by anyone who is involved in the dispute or by the counsel of any party. Conflicts also are referred by courts, law enforcement, elected officials and public agencies.
“It is now estimated that about 60% – 80% of family law litigants are self-represented. Many of these families cannot afford representation. The
court system can be a difficult, lengthy and unpredictable process. It often increases the intensity of conflict between family members, leaving them financially and emotionally exhausted. For low income families, access to justice is even more challenging.” – FMR Centre
A series of experiments conducted by researchers affiliated with Princeton University has revealed that punishment is only satisfying to victims if the offenders change their attitude as a result of the punishment.
Friederike Funk, a Princeton psychology graduate student and one of the researchers stated that, “revenge is only ‘sweet’ if the person reacts with a change in attitude, if the person understands that what they did was wrong. It is not the act itself that makes punishment satisfying.
The findings offer insights into a wide range of situations—from casual encounters to the sentencing of a criminal. And the research advances efforts in psychology and philosophy to understand the social motives of punishment and the communicative aspects of punishment.
The research was highlighted in an article titled “Get the Message: Punishment Is Satisfying if the Transgressor Responds to Its Communicative Intent,” which was published online this month by the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. The authors are Funk; Victoria McGeer, a research scholar at Princeton’s University Center for Human Values and a fellow in philosophy at Australian National University; and Mario Gollwitzer, a professor of methodology and social psychology at Philipps-University Marburg in Germany who was a visiting professor at Princeton in 2012.
In one of the experiments, participants recruited from among Princeton undergraduates were matched with what they were told was a human partner to solve a series of anagrams. The participants were asked to individually solve as many anagrams as they could in two minutes. For each, they would be paid 10 cents.
The participant’s partner—actually a computer programmed to complete the exercise—always solved one fewer anagram than the participant. But when asked how the pair should split their earnings, the computer partner always wanted to keep the entire payment for itself. The human participants generally recommended roughly an even split. The final averaged payment was therefore always unfair.
Most participants were then given the chance to punish their partner for their selfish act by reducing the partner’s earnings. The participants who decided to do so then received one of three reactions:
- no feedback;
- a message from their computer partner acknowledging the punishment, reading “Hey, you reduced my bonus! OK—I was greedy … but I don’t see what was wrong with that … In situations like this I always try to get as much as I can”; or
- a message both acknowledging the punishment and a change in moral attitude, reading “Hey you reduced my bonus! OK—I was greedy … and now see what’s wrong with that … I shouldn’t be such a jerk in situations like this!”
“We found that punishment was only satisfying if the transgressor changed his attitude as a result of punishment. In addition, only if such a change occurred, participants would agree that everybody got what they deserve,” Funk said. “It doesn’t make a difference if you punish and there is no feedback or if you punish and the transgressor clearly recognizes he is punished but doesn’t change. Both are equally as unsatisfying as if people didn’t have the possibility to punish in the first place.”
The research represents the first part of Funk’s work for her dissertation, which focuses on why people have the desire to punish and what they hope to achieve through punishment. Among the questions still to be answered: When is change perceived to be authentic?
While the research focused on a minor social transgression—unfairly splitting a nominal sum of money—it has implications for more serious situations.
The research highlights the need for changes in the criminal-justice system, because punishment often doesn’t bring about the moral change victims seek in offenders, said Tyler Okimoto, a senior lecturer in management in the business school at the University of Queensland in Australia whose research topics include conflict management and justice restoration.
“Reconciling the discrepancies in what people seek to achieve through punishment and what our sanctioning practices actually achieve is critical to improving the legitimacy of our justice system,” said Okimoto, who wasn’t involved in the research. “This research should raise red flags for legal policymakers. These findings suggest our sanctioning practices might be adapted to better suit the concerns of the public.”
More information: psp.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/04/30/0146167214533130.abstract
Cornell University to use Brāv for their annual eMediation Competition. Beginning October 31st, Brāv will be providing a platform for synchronous communication. Join us: one.brav.org.
Not yet…but can’t we dream?
We don’t have to! Reach out to your politicians and tell them to give our online platform a run…they won’t even have to leave the comfort of their own rooms to debate policy anymore…
Now who’s next…
…while we figure that out, fill out our 5 question survey HERE!
How many more?
Everyone realizes that there is an issue…but what’s the solution?
Speaking of conflicts…we are seeking more research and have created a brief, 5 question survey on workplace conflict. Please fill it out and contact your friends (HR, admins, employees, etc) in both public and private sector to fill it out? The link is below. Thank you!
The idea of using mediation to resolve conflicts in organizations, including school and work is still foreign to many, yet in actuality it is a simple concept with a high success rate. Specifically, disagreeing parties often feel more empowered through mutual consensus and decision-making. One group in particular is hoping to normalize this idea through making readily available resources – globally: the International Mediation Institute (IMI).
IMI is a non-profit organization funded entirely by donations, that acts as a central depot for dispute resolution resources. It serves a global base for experienced mediators, advocates and others involved in collaborative dispute resolution and negotiation processes. The Institute also convenes stakeholders, promotes understanding and disseminates skills, all in a non-service provider capacity. IMI has several great components:
(1) setting standards for mediators and mediation advocates/advisors on a global scale.
(2) the unique mission to establish mediation as a recognized profession.
(3) holding consultative status with the UN economic and social council (ECOSOC), and observer status with UNCITRAL.
(4) the IMI credentialing scheme sets high standards, but also makes those standards transparent to Users by requiring IMI Certified Mediators to:
a – collect feedback from Users (disputants and their professional representatives), on the experience they had in mediation and the performance of a mediator;
b – appoint an independent organization or individual to summarize it into a Feedback Digest, and include it in the IMI Certified Mediator’s Profile.
In this way, the mediator’s ongoing competency is validated by the community they serve.
When high practice standards are developed, tested and implemented consistently cross-border by recognized, professional experts, global professional standards exist. IMI achieves this through the Independent Standards Commission (ISC), a 70+ strong body of Mediators, Users, Judiciary, Providers, Trainers, and Educators from 27 countries and established system of the Qualifying Assessment Programs approved by ISC.
For businesses, the widespread adoption of international credentialing provides confidence to parties seeking help resolving conflicts and creates a standard for every neutral to adopt. “It also means a greater ability to trust choices of other parties (re-starting the relationship building process) based on the known element of IMI Certification (even if the specific individual is unknown). Making suitable choices between a number of competent mediators is much easier.
Further, organization conflict management means a professional approach to help parties negotiate through conflicts when bilateral efforts threaten a sustainable outcome. Ultimately it means lower costs and less time focusing on process aspects – leaving more opportunity to manage the conflict itself. When organizations and companies propose mediation as part of their ongoing business, it is viewed not as an expression of weakness but as a strength and a genuine implementation of organizational and corporate policy and ethos.
Current law students at Harvard Law School are working on a long-term paper focused on Online Dispute Resolution. The premise of the research is to trace the evolution of online dispute resolution (ODR), outline the advantages and disadvantages of online resolution mechanisms, and try to identify some best practices for effective online mediation. According to one current Harvard legal scholar, “Brāv is an incredibly helpful data point, since up until this point ODR has primarily been used for ecommerce disputes rather than interpersonal conflicts.”
Look out for more soon!