Saturday, October 7

Post-Decision Dissonance

I spent this last week rising at 5.30am to head down to a pristine Fijian beach on the Pacific Ocean.

I would sit on the sand, bleary eyed in my lavalava, watching the fishermen bring in their catch for the early morning wet markets of Suva and Nadi.

When we're on holiday I'm on breakfast duty and I clumsily bargained with the fishermen for our daily coral trout or large crab.

But there was, believe it or not, a definite downside to this idyllic existence.

You see, I spent the rest of the day wondering whether or not I got a bargain there on the beach.

Having cut out the middle man I fully expected to be well ahead but I still found time to sneak off to the local village market later in the day to compare my morning's purchase.

Its a stretch, but my experience at mediation has been similar... after parties have made a decision to settle they will often feel dissonance about the possibility of having been taken... what is with that?

When I did see my fish in the market for less, I would look at it and say 'well, its not as fresh' or 'actually its not as fat...' Anything to reduce the dissonance I was feeling and make my deal on the beach seem more attractive.

There's research on Post-Decision Dissonance.

Three conditions are found to heighten post-decision dissonance:
1. the importance of the issue
2. the amount of time an individual delays in choosing
3. the difficulty involved in reversing the decision once it’s been made

But do I have a role as mediator to involve myself in something that may or may not take place after the mediation?

Well duh, I think so... durable outcomes, settlement stickability... ring a bell?

Last week's decision of the California Court of Appeal in Simmons v. Lida Ghaderi should remind us of the importance of that.

We may also get some clues on what mediators should do when faced with buyer's remorse from advice to lawyers when faced with the same problem in an out of court settlement...'cognitive dissonance theory reminds us that anxiety stalks our clients from the time they select us to work for them... Smart lawyers will try to eliminate doubt and ambiguity in client relations by... [read more]

Sort of related Confirmation Bias


John said...

What you wrote and article you linked did a good job of reinfocing how wise the lawyer or mediator is to communicate well at all stages of the engagement on account of how suseptible those they serve are to suffer buyers remorse -- an emotional more often than intellectual pheomena -- that sets in as they deal with the progress of the process and, most often, with the outcome. This seems a topic, especially as it relates to mediation, to be worth more discussion ... perhaps a panel discussion.

John said...

P.S. May I assume that the trip to Figi to work on your todays article ... wonderfully done ... become income tax deductible now that you have published the fruits of your labors in Figi here?

Dina Lynch, said...

Geoff, you got me thinking how cognitive dissonance also impacts the decision-making process when choosing mediation as a problem-solving tool.

My theory is that consumers hesitate because they lack familiarity with this mysterious process called mediation and have no good points of reference.

Wise ADR entrepreneurs can eliminate or reduce the consumer's perception of risk and potential loss by shedding light on the process and sharing (with permission) the experiences of others who have found mediation successful.

I agree with John that the topic is worthy of more discussion.

Enjoy the holiday!

Best, Dina

Dina Beach Lynch, Business Mensch

Diane Levin said...

Geoff, welcome back from vacation! Your wise insights and humor were greatly missed!

All the best,