Factors Related to Hypnotisability

Executive Summary

The scope of the research is to measure people’s levels of hypnotizability and whether it relates to empathy, absorption and imagery. Studying hypnosis susceptibility helps us understand and identify different characteristics that make individuals react to hypnosis and how effective the proposed measurable scales are.

Hypnosis susceptibility study is conducted through experimental analysis that employs computer generated and self-report measures. Our comprehensive analysis concluded that all the three mentioned factors were positive predictors of hypnotizability. Importance of conducting this study was that medical professionals will be able to relate to new events and develop effective treatment inventions and therapeutic techniques to treat the most diverse forms of pains.

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Manmillar et al (2005) defines hypnosis is a mental state, usually induced by a procedure known as the hypnotic induction. According to their definition, hypnosis uses the imaginative role-enactment which relaxes individual’s objective area of the mind, or may be delivered in the presence of subject.

To broaden our understanding Carli (2007) defines hypnotisability as “the cognitive trait allowing subjects to module perception, emotion and behavior according to specific suggestions” (p.64). Their contemporary research suggests that hypnotisability is a procedure that awakens our focused attention. Accompanied by physical relaxation and induced mental concentration, hypnosis scores are obtained after hyptonic induction, on a standardized hypnosis scale.

The ability to destruct the metal concentration is engrossed in the idea of training thoughts which may subsequently result to individual unconsciousness or even the progressive relaxation term known as ‘nervous sleep’.

Most clinicians agree that hypnosis is an effective therapeutic technique that can be used with people suffering from diverse forms of pains. It’s however argued that the degree to which people receive hypnosis vary from one individual to another and the levels of susceptible hypnosis as mentioned by Manmillar et al (2005) may range from high and low hypnotisability.

To come to a better understanding of the relationship between high and low hypnosis, Manmillar et al (2005) defines high hypnotizable generally as the ease of relaxing minds while Brynt and Idey (2001) defines it as the display of more fantasy proneness and greater absorption.

While there are many similarities in high hypnotizable definition, Hilgard (1979) adds that individuals which such susceptible experience greater imaginary involvement while Kumar at al (1996) strongly focuses on their conscious experience in response to the imagery offered by the hypnotist.

In measuring hypnosis effectiveness, Braffman and Kirsch (2001) suggests two detrimental methodologies to include; simple and go/no go reaction times. His analysis further concluded individuals on hypnozability were positively related with simple reaction time and correlated with go/no go reaction time, when non hypnotic suggestibilities were statistically controlled.

It is evidenced that different characteristics make individuals react to hypnosis different and some may be more susceptible to hypnosis than others. Since their applications in both clinical and research settings, hypnotizability scales have never been evidenced to measure effects of hypnotizability.

Since hypnotizability is a stable construct, identifying its predictors would be helpful in comprehending individual differences observed in suggestibility (Paul and Mathews, 2003). Using a set of standardized suggestions to check individuals’ responses, followed by a standardized induction, to know the measure of hypnotic ability they posses is applied.

Barber, Spanos and Chaves (1974) further clarifies that individual differences in ability to respond to hypnosis could be described with the aid of imagination and absorption constructs. Paul and Mathews (2003) on the other hand suggests that hypnotic suggestibility and individual differences are most likely to be experienced with people with the ability to respond to waking and may not necessarily lack the ability to respond to hypnotic procedures.

Kogon et al (1998) define imaginary as the ability of a person to receive an experience or emotional state in one’s mind. He provides that relationships among imaginary and hypnotisability are complex and the methodologies used can easily inflate the relationships.

In this case, Kogon et al (1998) suggests for careful application of the results obtained as many may differ in their degree of association and functionality depending on context of their hypnotic application. In vivid imagery hypnosis application, Kogon et al (1998) performed an experimental analysis where they correlated computer generated and self-report measure of imagery with hypnotizability to measure the degree of their relationship.

Computer generated imagery measures were used due to their ability to provide accurate results and because they are better predictors of hypnotizability. Credited as good hypnotizability measure, the computer generated results did not yield satisfactory results as most of the experiments were conducted outside hypnotic setting.

Moreover, the imagery modality used in measuring correlation between imagery and hypnotisability were valid. This is according to (Carli et al, 2007) reports that stated that “instructions of globally reduced perception” (p.14). In this case the research should have based their analysis on particular sensory modalities which would have yielded positive results that related to the study question.

Milling et al 2000 define absorption as an individual’s characteristic, which encompasses openness, to experience changes in cognitive and emotional, state over rage of circumstances. Green and Lynn (2008) defined it as the capacity for self- altering attention that is considered to be significant component of hypnotozability.

When relating back to highly susceptible individuals, Milling (2000) argue that individuals with highly susceptible are believed to get involved in a variety of imaginative practices more on faster when measuring absorption. Another study conducted by Council, Kirsch and Gran (1996) considers absorption as a predictor of hypnotizability and suggests use of scales designed specifically for measuring absorption to be used.

However in determining the relationship between absorption and hypnotic susceptibility, the most commonly used measures implied that the absorption scales were consistent and reliable related when tests were administered in the same experimental setting (Green and Lynn, 2008).

Szlyk (2003) defines the emotional processes underlie the experience ad creation of hypnosis. He speculates that empathy plays an important role in hypnotic subjects put together in hypnotic experiences. Szlyh (2003) experimental analysis included observations from various researches speculating the particular trait empathy and its relationship to hypnotizability.

He first defined empathy as the ability to understand another person’s feelings and motives. His experimental analysis however showed strong correlation of trait empathy with hypnotic ability. Higard (1970) further examined an individual’s capacity to empathetically recognize characters in drama and literature makes empathy a notable predictor of hypnotizability.

Wickramasekera (1998) study of ‘High Risk Model of Threat Perception’ that examined relationship between emphatic process of emotional contagion and imitation in relations to behavioral and experimental indices of hypnotic ability observed that development of psychosomatic symptoms were more susceptible in high hypnotizable’s as a result of increased empathetic characteristics they posses.

Same clinical observations conducted by Spiegal and Spiegal (1978) confirmed that individuals with high hypnotic ability tend to relate to new events and begin to develop symptoms that resemble the ones they have observed in others.


The study recruited 244 participants among whom 239 successfully completed the questionnaire booklet. The study was aimed at identifying factors that best predict hypnotizability, along with the effect of time on hypnotizability. A series of correlations were employed in investigating factors favorable for hypnotizability completed with t-tests aimed at measuring the effect of time on hypnotizability

Our experimental analysis measures whether hypnotizablity relates to three factors; empathy, absorption and imagery. I first hypothesis that mpathy would be the highest predictor of hypnotizability. And secondly, there would be little difference between pre-group and post-group scores.

The results did however find correlation and intercorrelation values for hypnotizability to be as follows; the correlation for hypnotizability and empathy were r (237) =. 254, the correlation between hypnotizability and imagery as r= (237) = .1.141, hypnotizability and absorption is r (237) = .196

Table 1: The Relationship between Absorption, Imagery, Empathy and


AbsorptionPearson Correlation N
ImageryPearson Correlation N
EmpathyPearson Correlation N


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