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Parental expectancy and correlates of hypnotic and nonhypnotic suggestibility in a sample of Puerto Rican children

Antonio J Bustillo, University of Massachusetts Amherst


The clinical uses of hypnosis with children have been well documented in increasing numbers in the scientific literature. Past research have suggested a link between the capacity for absorption in fantasy and imaginative involvement, and the capacity to respond to hypnotic suggestions in adulthood. In the case of the uses of hypnotherapy with children, imaginative involvement has played a central role in attempting to predict which children would benefit from hypnosis as part of a therapeutic intervention. Recent research on hypnotic responding with adults have shown that expectancy about hypnotic responding does have an effect on responses to hypnotic suggestions. Expectancy has been proved to be an important situational factor that affects the subject's response to hypnotic suggestions. There were two purposes for this study; one was to assess various correlates of imaginative suggestibility in children while controlling for waking suggestibility. This replicated the study of Poulsen (2000) in which he investigated selected correlates of imaginative suggestibility in a sample of children from a clinical population, and determined to what extent children's responsiveness was due to waking suggestibility and how much was due to hypnotic suggestibility. The second purpose was to explore if there is a relationship between parents' expectancies of their children's responses to suggestibility and the actual responses of their children. The correlates chosen for this investigation were dissociative behavior, fantasy behavior, imaginative involvement, and parental expectancies. All have been critical in better understanding of what personality, behavioral and attitudinal characteristics predict hypnotic suggestibility in children. As predicted, vividness was significantly associated with both nonhypnotic and hypnotic suggestibility. Contrary to what was predicted, absorption did not correlate significantly with nonhypnotic suggestibility but did evidence a strong correlation with hypnotic suggestibility. Also contrary to what had been predicted, neither fantasy nor dissociation showed significant correlations with nonhypnotic or hypnotic suggestibility. As expected, parental expectancies did increase with hypnotic suggestibility, but they were not significantly associated with imaginative suggestibility (with and without induction) of the children. Nonhypnotic suggestibility accounted for most of the variance in hypnotizability. A significant correlation was found between nonhypnotic and hypnotic suggestibility, but none of the imaginative suggestibility variables were found to predict unique variance in hypnotizability when nonhypnotic suggestibility was controlled. Absorption and vividness accounted for 27% of the variance in hypnotizability, but did not obtained statistical significance. Similar to previous research, results of this study support the view of hypnotic responsiveness as reflecting a continuum of suggestibility. Finally, the implications of context and cultural differences when assessing nonhypnotic and hypnotic suggestibility in native Spanish-speaking children are discussed.

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Recommended Citation

Bustillo, Antonio J, "Parental expectancy and correlates of hypnotic and nonhypnotic suggestibility in a sample of Puerto Rican children" (2003). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI3110471.