Abstract:Research examining the relative effectiveness of mediation and adjudication has raised questions about whether the apparent benefits of mediation can be attributed to differences in the two dispute resolution procedures or, instead, are due to differences in the characteristics of the disputes or disputants in the different procedures. Litigants in four small claims courts provided multiple comparison groups that enabled us to empirically examine case and process effects. Disputes and disputants in mediation and adjudication differed on few attributes. The process, outcomes, and impact of mediation and adjudication differed in ways generally consistent with their theoretical differences. Although the degree of liability admitted by the defendant played a role, overall, differences in the effectiveness of mediation and adjudication were due more to differences in the processes themselves than to differences in the disputes and disputants using each procedure.