SMU Law Review


Mediators aspire and endeavor to meet their ethical duty of “neutrality” in mediation. Yet their ability to actually conduct mediations without bias, prejudice, or favoritism toward any party is extraordinarily difficult, if not impossible. Research shows that unconscious mental processes involving stereotypes and attitudes affect our judgments, perceptions, and behavior toward others. Implicit bias, the automatic association of stereotypes and attitudes with social groups, may produce discriminatory responses toward parties despite a mediator’s best efforts at creating an outwardly even-handed process. Even the most well-intentioned and egalitarian mediators must actively engage in bias reduction strategies to mitigate prejudice in mediation.