Embracing Debiasing in Mediator's Tactic of Reality Testing

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Original languageEnglish
Article number04519046
Journal / PublicationJournal of Legal Affairs and Dispute Resolution in Engineering and Construction
Issue number1
Online published9 Dec 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2020


Biased decisions hinder rational construction dispute negotiations. Successful use of debiasing strategies enhances the efficiency of construction dispute management. Due to the flexibility and popularity of mediation, it is proposed that debiasing arrangements be incorporated into the mediator's toolkit. Reality testing has been commonly used by mediators to keep disputing parties on rational courses. As such, integrating debiasing in reality testing is proposed as well. For example, a mediator can tactfully ask well-thought-out questions to stimulate the disputing parties to review and reestimate their decisions. This provides an opportunity for the parties to acknowledge their unrealistic beliefs and expectations. Seventeen reality-testing questions embracing debiasing elements are proposed. By asking these questions, mediators remind the disputants to (1) allow adequate time in decision making; (2) consider the opposite; (3) be rational; and (4) optimize the mediation mechanism. The usefulness of these reality-testing questions has been as validated by experienced third-party neutrals with substantial credentials.

Research Area(s)

  • Construction dispute resolution, Debiasing, Mediation, Reality testing