Professor Kenneth Kressel

Department of Psychology
Rutgers University, Newark
101 Warren Street, Smith 359
Newark, NJ 07102

phone: (973) 453-5440 x 232;
           (732) 247-5986
fax:     (973) 353-1171



Columbia University- Ph.D. Psychology, 1973 (advisor, Morton Deutsch)
Queens College (CUNY)- B.A Psychology; Cum Laude, 1964

(Côte d’Ivoire, Peace Corps, 1964-1966)


Research Interests

     My research deals with the nature and management of social conflict, with a particular focus on the use of third party mediation as a method for resolving highly polarized conflicts. The research program has grown out of my training as both a social and clinical psychologist and has been aimed at addressing three primary questions: (1) What are the contextual and interactive forces that produce particularly destructive conflict? (2) What strategies and tactics of conflict management are most effective in dealing with such forces? (3) How do mediators think about their role as managers of conflict? In particular, what cognitive schema influence their behavior and decision-making and to what extent do these schema differ from their conscious and explicit ideas about their role?

     To answer these questions one of my primary research arenas has been in family and divorce conflict where mediation is often used as an effective alternative to the adversarial legal system. I have also studied mediator behavior and thinking in industrial and international disputes, in hospitals, and in university academic departments. For the last four years I have been using an intensive case study method to develop an understanding of the dynamics of conflict among scientists and the thinking of the mediators who try to help them resolve their differences. This project is being done in collaboration with Howard Gadlin, the Director of the Office of the Ombudsman at the National Institutes of Health.

     My most recent project involves bringing expert and novice mediators into the lab and videotaping them as they attempt to resolve the same simulated dispute. The Mediator-subject is then shown the videotape of him or herself at work and is asked to ”think aloud” as he or she watches the videotape. This stimulated recall procedure has proven effective in getting at the mental models of experts in various fields and we are hoping that it will illuminate the implicit “theories in action” of professional and novice mediators with different training and backgrounds. This work is being conducted with Tiffany Butts, a graduate student in the psychology department, and several undergraduate research assistants.


Representative Publications

Kressel, K. (2003). The study of divorce mediation: Are randomized trials the answer to our prayers? Contemporary Psychology, 48, 152-154.

Kressel, K., Hyman, J., Lev, E., Kennedy, C., & Taylor, L. (2002). Managing conflict in an urban health care setting: What do “experts” know? Journal of Health Care Law & Policy. 5, 364-446.

Kressel, K. (2000). Mediation. In M. Deutsch and P. Coleman (Eds.) The Handbook of Constructive Conflict Resolution: Theory and Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kressel, K., Bailey, J., and Forman, S. (1999). Psychological Consultation in Higher Education: Lessons from a University Faculty Development Center. Journal of Educational and Psychological Consultation, 10, 51-82.

Bailey, K. R., Saparito, P., Kressel, K., Christensen, E. and Hooiberg, R. (1997). A Model for Reflective Pedagogy. Journal of Management Education, 21, 155167.

Kressel, K. (1997). Practice-Relevant Research in Mediation: Toward a Reflective Research Paradigm. Negotiation Journal, 13, 143-160.

Kressel, K., Frontera, E., Forlenza, S., Butler, F., and Fish, L. (1994). The Settlement Orientation vs. The Problem-Solving Style in Custody Mediation. The Journal of Social Issues, 50, 67-84.

Kressel, K. (1994). Fran Butler: Questions That Need Answers in Child Custody Mediation. In D. Kolb (Ed.), When Talk Works: Profiles of Mediators. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Kolb, D. and Kressel, K. (1994). The Realities of Making Talk Work. Profiles in Peacemaking. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Reich, W., Kressel, K. and Scanlon, K. M. Predicting the decision to pursue mediation in civil disputes: A hierarchical classes analysis. (Under review). Reich, W., Wagner-Westbrook, B. and Kressel, K. Actual and ideal conflict style and job distress in a health care organization. (under review).



Lab Group