Crooked Conflicts: The Effects of Conflict Asymmetry in Mediation

  • Karen A. Jehn
  • Joyce Rupert
  • Aukje Nauta
  • Seth Van Den Bossche


Our main research question is how will the asymmetry of conflict between two parties involved in mediation affect the outcomes of the mediation? Conflict asymmetry is the difference in perceptions of conflict among the parties; that is, one person experiences high levels of conflict whereas the other person perceives that there is little or no conflict. In this multimethod study of 54 individuals involved in matched‐pair mediations in an organizational setting, we examine the effects of conflict asymmetry on satisfaction with the process and results of the mediation, as well as their recommendation of mediation to others. We find that when the two people involved in mediation have asymmetrical conflict perceptions, there is less satisfaction with the result and the process and this is partly owing to their view of the mediator being biased. In addition, we find that the person who experienced more conflict is more likely to recommend mediation as a successful process to coworkers. The results of this study should be taken cautiously and replicated in future studies because our real‐life data has limitations. Therefore, the main contribution of this paper is that it provides a theoretical perspective for studying conflict asymmetry in mediations.

Keywords: perceptions, conflict, mediation

How to Cite:

Jehn, K. & Rupert, J. & Nauta, A. & Van Den Bossche, S., (2010) “Crooked Conflicts: The Effects of Conflict Asymmetry in Mediation”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 3(4), 338-357. doi:

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Published on
10 Oct 2010
Peer Reviewed