Media Effects: Online Communication and diversity in values and behavioral norms

Welcome to the Forum on "Diversity, Values, Cultures, and Behavioral Styles"

We are looking forward to engaging with participants from all over the globe to consider how these topics impact or can potentially impact disputing and dispute resolution online. 


To start our discussion:
We, along with several other forums on different topics, are invited to engage in a shared analysis of a single case.  We hope that this  will make for a stimulating interdisciplinary, multi-foci analysis.
 
Later in the week we will be introducing further questions about our  forum topic that are not related to the case.
 
Please review the following case and then jump into the discussion!

Ecotourism media effects case.pdf

 
After having read the case, here are a couple of questions to get us started:
*What cultural factors do you think might have influenced the  development of the dispute(s) and that might impact the parties as  they attempt to address the dispute(s) through the use of technology?
 
How might differences in values and context have impacted the  dispute(s) and disputants that they will bring with them "to the virtual table?"




Moderator Bio:

Leah Wing


Leah is on the faculty in Legal Studies in the Political Science Department at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst, USA and is Co-Director of the (USA) National Center for Technology and Dispute Resolution.  Her research and teaching focuses on issues of power and identity and their effect on disputing on and offline.  Leah has served two terms on the Board of Directors of the Association of Conflict Resolution (2002-2008) and as a member of the editorial board of Conflict Resolution Quarterly since 2002.


Some of her recent publications include: 


Wing, L.  Mediation and Inequality Reconsidered:  Bringing the Discussion to the Table.  Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Vol. 26, 383-404, 2009.


Wing, L.  Whither Neutrality?  Mediation in the Twenty-First Century.  In Trujillo, M.A., Bowland, S.Y., Myers, L. J., Richards, P.M., and Roy, B.(eds.), Re-Centering Culture and Knowledge in Conflict Resolution Practice. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008, 93-107.


Katsh, E. and Wing, L.  Online Dispute Resolution in the Last Decade and the Future. Toledo Law Review, Vol. 38, 101-126, 2006.



Vance Jackson

Vance is an Assistant Professor of Psychology and the Director of the Psychology Program at Green Mountain College.  He received his BS in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Master’s degrees in Community Counseling and Social Psychology from Ball State University, and a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from Ball State University.

 

Vance’s teaching and research interests focus on ways that people interact with the social environment around them.  Specifically, Vance is interested in examining ways that negative attitudes, stereotypes, and systems of privilege affect traditionally marginalized populations. In addition, he is interested in examining how gender stereotypes influence the workplace.  Vance teaches numerous courses that explore ways that culture influences our daily lives. In his spare time,Vance enjoys spending quality time with his wife and dog. He also enjoys hiking, playing guitar, reading, and playing soccer.


Sample Publications


 Refereed Journal Articles

Jackson, Z.V., Wright, S.L., & Perrone, K.M. (In Press). Work-family Interface for Men

              in Nontraditional Careers. Journal of Employment Counseling.

Perrone, K. M., Jackson, Z.V., Perrone, P. A., Wright, S. L., & Ksiazak, T. M. (2008).


Perfectionism, achievement of potential, and attributions of success among gifted adults. Advanced Development: A Journal on Adult Giftedness.

  Perrone, K.M., Perrone, P.A., Ksiazak, T.M., Wright, S.L., & Jackson, Z.V. 
(2007). 

Gender differences in self perceptions of giftedness among adults in a longitudinal study of academically talented high school graduates.  Roeper
Review, 29,
259-264.





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Replies to This Discussion

Leah - Again, doing my thing touching on a corner of your comments: I couldn't come up with a full-blown cultural divide I tried to ask parties to bridge online; however, when it comes to language (which I think, in this regard, should certainly count as a part of culture) - lots of stories come to mind. One example is when I am working with people from Turkey, and people from other countries (in these cases, primarily US and UK): I have worked for several years in Turkey, and am fluent in "Turkish English" - in other words, how native Turks speak, what words they use when, and what is behind their sentence structure, as they communicate in English. A couple of issues I commonly encounter:

Turks use this word "too" instead of "so": "that is too funny" means "so funny" or "very funny"; "I am too happy" means "I am so happy", and so on. In some connotations in US/UK English, saying "too" seems to be casting a doubt on the veracity of a statement: "That is too good" might be heard as "that is too good to be real, you must be making it up"; "I've been waiting for too long" might sound as a compliant or a blame instead of an I-statement of yearning, etc. This comes up more often than you might think!

When native English speakers start a sentence, they often use filler/prelim words such as "Well...", "So..." "Now..." to open it up. Turks actually usually use the Turkish word for "Now", when speaking in Turkish; however, when speaking English, they commonly
open with the word "Actually...". To a native English speaker, this is a word with a contrary connotation; in their minds, the speaker is about to correct them on something. This triggers a defensive mindset and interpretation biases that tend towards the negative - even if they are about to receive a compliment!

These issues play out in written communication (and of course in videoconferencing) just as they do in face to face, oral, communication. In these cases, I often need to ask parties to reiterate what they have said, engage in reframing myself, or sometimes engage in full-blown explanation of the difference of nuance [and not always successfully! I've also seen language-nuance issues like these and others accumulate to blow a process out of the water!
A number of people are concerned about that lack of visuals and lack of in person communication in which to 'read' body language. Clearly ODR presents significant limitations in this regard. Noam shared some great concrete examples of how he helps to facilitate clarifications when cultural differences could exacerbate already present tensions.

Are there other behavioral strategies or software or hardware applications people have used to 'get beyond' the limitations of both cultural differences and of not meeting in-person?

What ideas or concerns do you have if this is not a priority for the ODR practitioner community?
Leah
Jeff makes a valid point about the use of ODR and "keeping emotions in check." While I agree with this, and with the importance of remaining civil and professional during a dispute resolution...call me old fashioned but the loss of ability to convey emotions, especially through body language, seems to be one of the biggest faults of ODR. Communication through body language is a very important part of dispute resolutions (online and offline). I agree with Vance that we definitely do rely on body language to convey our points across, and while it might seem more professional to solve a dispute with the absence of this...it is not a realistic approach. The loss of the face-to-face connection is definitely negative. For example, (to keep it very simple), saying "I'm sorry." in text online vs, saying "I'm sorry" in person usually with a face of regret and body language that conveys apology. The second holds MUCH more meaning...and it is unfortunate that this meaning is usually lost through ODR.
Interesting points Catherine!
On the issue of apology, you might want to check out a sister forum here at Cyberweek focusing on this, which you can find here.


Catherine Mielcarz said:
Jeff makes a valid point about the use of ODR and "keeping emotions in check." While I agree with this, and with the importance of remaining civil and professional during a dispute resolution...call me old fashioned but the loss of ability to convey emotions, especially through body language, seems to be one of the biggest faults of ODR. Communication through body language is a very important part of dispute resolutions (online and offline). I agree with Vance that we definitely do rely on body language to convey our points across, and while it might seem more professional to solve a dispute with the absence of this...it is not a realistic approach. The loss of the face-to-face connection is definitely negative. For example, (to keep it very simple), saying "I'm sorry." in text online vs, saying "I'm sorry" in person usually with a face of regret and body language that conveys apology. The second holds MUCH more meaning...and it is unfortunate that this meaning is usually lost through ODR.
I agree with what people have already said about the limitations of ODR. The inability to incorporate body language is a significant drawback considering a great deal of body language is unconscious and could actually prove to be an important aspect of a dispute resolution process. Additionally, as Catherine pointed out, body language can convey emotion, and it isn't realistic to have a dispute resolution without an involvement of emotion. I feel that emotion in a non face-to-face scenario would most likely be expressed by an increase in tension and temper (and vocal volume?). Also, besides the ODR limitation on body language, the understanding and interpretation of what is being said can be limited because of cultural differences, language barriers, etc., as well as the absence of subtle and nuanced communication. And, of course, as Leah mentioned, what is not being communicated can be compelling.

While I definitely agree that these are among the drawbacks to ODR, I think it is important to appreciate some positive aspects of ODR. As long as those parties who are involved have access to and understanding of the technology, it can be quite beneficial. Technology can act as an equalizer between otherwise unequal parties. There is an increase to the convenience and speediness of a dispute resolution when using ODR, especially when dealing with an international dispute.

I personally feel that face-to-face communication, especially during a dispute or the resolution of a dispute, is much better than any other kind of communication. It creates a sense of connection between the participants that can foster and further the desire to resolve the dispute fairly and satisfactorily to all.
I feel as though everyone has made really great contributions to this discussion, so I would just like to briefly elaborate on the benefits of ODR that Hannah mentioned. I believe that it is true that ODR can take away some of the important qualities of traditional ADR, but that the level of convenience can easily supersede the drawbacks. Several people mentioned that body language and emotion is removed in ODR, which can cause misinterpretations to occur. However, in thinking about the case, it could possibly be beneficial to not have body language and emotion involved. All three cultures are very different, and are likely to express themselves differently both verbally and physically. This could lead to just as much confusion face to face as not being able to see it at all. By having the opportunity to speak in neutral, plain text could lead to a more successful dispute resolution, given the extreme culture differences of the parties involved. />
Hannah Kirschbaum said:
I agree with what people have already said about the limitations of ODR. The inability to incorporate body language is a significant drawback considering a great deal of body language is unconscious and could actually prove to be an important aspect of a dispute resolution process. Additionally, as Catherine pointed out, body language can convey emotion, and it isn't realistic to have a dispute resolution without an involvement of emotion. I feel that emotion in a non face-to-face scenario would most likely be expressed by an increase in tension and temper (and vocal volume?). Also, besides the ODR limitation on body language, the understanding and interpretation of what is being said can be limited because of cultural differences, language barriers, etc., as well as the absence of subtle and nuanced communication. And, of course, as Leah mentioned, what is not being communicated can be compelling.

While I definitely agree that these are among the drawbacks to ODR, I think it is important to appreciate some positive aspects of ODR. As long as those parties who are involved have access to and understanding of the technology, it can be quite beneficial. Technology can act as an equalizer between otherwise unequal parties. There is an increase to the convenience and speediness of a dispute resolution when using ODR, especially when dealing with an international dispute.

I personally feel that face-to-face communication, especially during a dispute or the resolution of a dispute, is much better than any other kind of communication. It creates a sense of connection between the participants that can foster and further the desire to resolve the dispute fairly and satisfactorily to all.
Thanks to all for your participation in this forum and for your thoughtful contributions this Cyberweek 2010! We hope it stimulates further discussions about the relationship between culture, conflict, and the use of technology for dispute resolution.
Leah

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