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A Theory Matrix for Mediators


Archie Zariski is an associate professor of legal studies at Athabasca University in Alberta. His e-mail address is


The author uses a behavioral perspective to survey theory that may be useful in mediation. He notes the lack of diffusion of knowledge of theory among practitioners and argues that mediators should pay more explicit attention to theory. He presents a matrix comprising the behavioral factors of perception, emotion, cognition, communication, and intervention at the micro, meso, and macro levels of conflict and uses this matrix to organize and review some mediation theories. Several types of intervention theory are identified: integrated, generic, dialectical, developmental, and dialogical. The article closes by posing some outstanding theoretical issues and questioning whether current mediator training programs are adequate to bridge the gap between theory and practice.