Does 'hypnosis' by any other name smell as sweet? The efficacy of 'hypnotic' inductions depends on the label 'hypnosis'

Consciousness and Cognition 14 (2):304-315 (2005)
Hypnosis is associated with profound changes in conscious experience and is increasingly used as a cognitive tool to explore neuropsychological processes. Studies of this sort typically employ suggestions following a hypnotic induction to produce changes in perceptual experience and motor control. It is not clear, however, to what extent the induction procedure serves to facilitate suggested phenomena. This study investigated the effect on suggestibility of a hypnotic induction and labelling that procedure ‘hypnosis.’ Suggestibility of participants was tested before and after an adapted hypnotic procedure, which was either labelled as ‘hypnosis’ or as ‘relaxation.’ The hypnotic procedure produced a modest increase in suggestibility when it was called ‘relaxation,’ but a very significant increase if it was labelled ‘hypnosis.’ The results are important for both clinical and experimental applications and indicate that labelling an induction procedure ‘hypnosis’ is an important determinant of subsequent responses to suggestion
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DOI 10.1016/j.concog.2004.12.004
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