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Caroline J Hollins Martin, Peter Bull
British Journal of Midwifery, Vol. 16, Iss. 8, 07 Aug 2008, pp 504 - 509

This study analyzes the psychological processes involved when a midwife accepts directions from a senior person. A representative sample of 20 midwives were recruited from 7 maternity units in North Yorkshire. An inductive thematic analysis was used to interpret interview data. Results showed that midwives respond to social influence from senior people using two processes: obedience and/or conformity.
Thirteen (65%) excerpts informed that participants’ interpreted direction from the senior person as instructions they were expected to follow (obedience) and seven (35%) showed that others voluntarily changed their viewpoint to agree with the one offered by the senior person (conformity). Participants’ behaviour has been explained in terms of ‘legitimacy’, ‘perceived obligation to the organization’ and ‘social identification’. These pressures create conflict between the midwives’ knowledge of how they would prefer to behave and concern to please authority or fit into the social group. Consequently, it may be difficult for midwives to support safe requests from women that conflict with what a senior person proposes.

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