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Correlates of imaginative suggestibility and hypnotizability in children

Bruce Craig Poulsen, University of Massachusetts Amherst


Imaginative involvement has long been seen a central characteristic of hypnosis with children. In attempting to predict which children would benefit from hypnosis as part of a clinical protocol, past researchers have focused on the relationship between imaginative involvement and hypnotizability. In particular, the constructs of absorption, vividness of mental imagery, and fantasy proneness have been investigated in correlational studies. However, Kirsch (1997) and others have recently drawn attention to the fact that hypnotizability scales, as they have been interpreted, confound hypnotic responsiveness with an individual's normal, baseline suggestibility. The purpose of this study was to assess various correlates of imaginative suggestibility (absorption, vividness, fantasy proneness, and dissociative behavior) while also controlling for nonhypnotic suggestibility. As predicted, vividness and fantasy were 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 birth order nor dissociation showed significant correlations with imaginative suggestibility (with and without induction). Overall, nonhypnotic suggestibility accounted for most of the variance in hypnotizability. The correlation between nonhypnotic suggestibility and hypnotic suggestibility was exceptionally high, and both vividness and absorption were found to predict unique variance in hypnotizability when nonhypnotic suggestibility was controlled. Fantasy did not uniquely predict hypnotizability. Finally, nonhypnotic suggestibility, absorption, and vividness were combined in a model that accounted for 76% of the variance in hypnotizability. Results of this study support the view of hypnotic responsiveness as reflecting a continuum of suggestibility. The present findings serve to further weaken the theory that hypnosis produces an altered state of consciousness.

Subject Area

Academic guidance counseling|Social psychology|Psychotherapy

Recommended Citation

Poulsen, Bruce Craig, "Correlates of imaginative suggestibility and hypnotizability in children" (2000). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9960780.