Building Strength or Lending an Ear in Legal Conflicts: Dependence and Conflict Asymmetry as Distinct Predictors of Needs for Support
Being aware of psychological aspects of legal conflicts can benefit the efficiency of legal aid. We propose that needs for support may be particularly dependent upon the experience of asymmetry between conflict parties. We distinguish between two types of asymmetry and examine how they relate to different needs for support. We hypothesized that dependence asymmetry (being more dependent on the other party than vice versa) would predict a need for problem‐focused help. Conflict asymmetry (experiencing more conflict than the other side) was expected to increase the need for emotion‐focused help, particularly when people have a weak social network. We tested these hypotheses with a survey among 700 legal aid clients. Results showed that dependence asymmetry was indeed a strong and positive predictor of problem‐focused empowerment needs, whereas conflict asymmetry positively and significantly predicted the need for emotion‐focused help, particularly in the absence of wider social support.
Keywords: social support, legal conflicts, legal aid, power‐dependence asymmetry, conflict asymmetry
How to Cite:
Dijk, M. & Giebels, E. & Zebel, S., (2016) “Building Strength or Lending an Ear in Legal Conflicts: Dependence and Conflict Asymmetry as Distinct Predictors of Needs for Support”, Negotiation and Conflict Management Research 9(1), 3-21. doi: https://doi.org/10.34891/k0f9-ze38