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

Hollins Martin, Caroline J; Bull, Peter


Peter Bull


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.


Hollins Martin, C. J., & Bull, P. (2010). The situational argument: do midwives agree or acquiesce with senior staff?. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 28, 180-190.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date May 7, 2010
Deposit Date Aug 19, 2015
Publicly Available Date Aug 19, 2015
Print ISSN 0264-6838
Electronic ISSN 1469-672X
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 28
Pages 180-190
Keywords Social influence; conformity; obedience; midwives; opinion;
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