Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Conformity and obedience among midwives.

Hollins Martin, Caroline J



Colin R Martin


The literature on obedience emphasises that legitimate authority is a powerful and compelling force. This is particularly evident in Milgram’s experiments (1963, 1974) in which participants systematically shocked a helpless victim at the bidding of an experimenter. Asch (1951, 1955, 1956) also showed conformity in his line judgement task, in which one in three participants yielded to group pressure. Conformity has a very broad meaning and refers to the behaviour of a person who goes along with his peers or people of his own status who have no social right to direct his behaviour (Milgram, 1974). Obedience has a narrower application. Its scope is restricted to the action of a person who complies with authority (Milgram, 1974). Consider a recruit who enters a health profession. They scrupulously carry out orders from superiors (obedience) at the same time as adopting the habits, routines and language of peers (conformity). Obedience and conformity both indicate abdication of initiative to an external source (Milgram, 1974).

Publication Date 2012-03
Deposit Date Jul 21, 2015
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 249-261
Book Title Perinatal Mental Health: a clinical guide
ISBN 9781905539499
Keywords Midwives; obedience; authority; conformity; initiative;
Public URL