313189_108436902596596_1707583335_nIn her writings, Elizabeth has identified the IDR cycle —  a core psychological dynamic during the negotiation and mediation of civil litigation and many other disputes.

The IDR cycle is the psychological cycle of ego- inflation (“I”), ego-deflation  (“D”) and, if the dispute settles, realistic resolution (R”) typically experienced by the parties.


As they arrive at the negotiation table and prepare to deal with the other side, parties begin to experience the psychological equivalent of the “fight response.”

This is characterized by (1)  overconfidence about the result to be achieved and (2) a bolstering of an inflated sense of self (ego-inflation) in readiness to fight.


Parties’ initial overconfidence in mediation and negotiation has been well documented.  It has been called “one of the most robust findings in the social sciences in recent decades.”  [1] 

[1] Russell Korobkin, Psychological Impediments to Mediation Success: Theory and Practice, 21 Ohio St. J. on Disp. Resol. 281, 284  (2006).


 As contact with the other party intensifies, each party learns that his/her unrealistic expectations may not be met.


 The  result is a sense of  ego-deflation or disappointment, and less certainty about the result that is acheivable in the situation.   This may manifest as anger and outrage.  With each offer or counteroffer, there is  a sense of  injury to the self, a loss of “face.”

 The mediator’s job is to help the parties to move through the deflation and maintain a focus on objective thinking.

Often, however, impasse cannot be avoided.


Impasse occurs when each party realizes  the requirements they have set for the behavior of the other person are not going to be met.


In order to move to realistic resolution,  the parties  have to come to terms with the needs and interests of the other parties. Ideally, they develop a sense of self-and-other not just a sense of their own needs in isolation.


During this phase, the parties have to  release the connection which exists in their minds between their sense of self and the outcome of the negotiation. The mediator  helps them evaluate their options, and encourages  communication about how they can construct a deal.

Ideally,  they emerge from the realistic resolution phase with a deal.

Responses (from previous posting on wordpress.com).

  1. I read your entire article and just wanted to acknowledge that I really liked the insights that you have gathered and are sharing. As someone who has studied and practiced conflict resolution and cultivation of inner neutrality and equanimity, I found one comment to be particularly worth writing into my journal: “In many ways, this commitment to inner neutrality is an essential prerequisite to a truly well functioning outward neutrality.”
    In gratitude,
    Kalee Powell
  • Thank you very much Kalee. I appreciate your reaching out and connecting with me, and the appreciation for my article. Please feel free (but not obligation) to call me so we can meet in person. My number is (415) 391-7272.Elizabeth