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The situational argument: do midwives agree or acquiesce with senior staff?

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Publication details

JournalJournal of reproductive and infant psychology
DatePublished - May 2010
Issue number2
Number of pages11
Pages (from-to)180-190
Original languageEnglish


This study concerns midwives' obedience/conformity to direction from a senior person. We sought to identify whether midwives just went along with what a midwife at management level suggested, or instead altered their views to match. In the first condition, a postal Social Influence Scale-Midwifery (SIS-M) measured and scored 209 midwives' private responses to 10 clinical questions. In a second condition, a senior midwife successfully influenced 60 of these midwives to alter their SIS-M decisions to agree with her suggested correct responses. In a third condition, a postal condition again measured the midwives private SIS-M responses. The aim was to elicit whether the midwives' simply complied with the senior midwife's suggestions during interview or actually changed their opinions to match hers. A 3 (E (lowest grade), F (middle grade) G (sister grade)) x 3 (above conditions) ANOVA found a significant main effect for conditions (F(2, 94) = 151.87, p = 0.001) with higher scores in the interview condition when the senior midwife passively influenced participant responses. Results inform that the interview manipulation had no lasting social influence effect, consistent with Milgram's transient situational argument. That is, in the presence of senior staff, midwives' decisions are profoundly influenced.

    Research areas

  • social influence, conformity, obedience, midwives, opinion, OBEDIENCE

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