Abstract of Master Thesis: Zoom på virtuel mægling

This thesis investigates what it means to the parties’ and the mediator’s experience of the concepts contact, trust and confidence to and with each other and what it means to the parties’ conversation with each other, when the mediation is moved from a face-to-face to an online setting.

The study is based on interviews of parties and mediator as well as observations of four different role plays, of which two of them have taken place in a face-to-face setting and two have taken place in a video session on the Zoom platform.

We found that the mediator became passive in his/her contact with the parties in the online setting because of the way he/she introduced the mediation process to the parties and because of the reduced nonverbal signals. This observation was partly shared by the mediator. We found that the parties experienced contact with each other in the online setting, but their conversation very quickly became solution- and negotiation oriented, why the mediation became focused on the agreement and only to a poor extent about the parties’ interests and needs.

We also found that the parties experienced trust to the mediator and vice versa but a part of the trust they experienced was institutional trust. In an online setting this means that the mediator does not have to worry about building up trust online. This institutional trust is possibly culturally conditioned.

The parties experienced confidence regarding the mediation process online, but this is possibly due to the fact that the mediator did not inform the parties about the information technology, which is a fourth party in the mediation. The parties experienced confidence with each other and with the mediator.

Finally, the study pointed out that some conflicts, where there are major emotions at stake, such as fear or anger, with advantage can be mediated online. Furthermore, it indicated that the reduced nonverbal signals in an online setting may indicate that the parties can relate better to what the other party is saying, rather than paying attention to the nonverbal signals.

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