Suggestibility or hypnosis: what do our scales really measure?

Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 1997 Jul;45(3):212-25. doi: 10.1080/00207149708416124.


Conceptually, hypnotizability has always been defined as the increase in suggestibility produced by hypnosis. In practice, hypnotizability is measured as suggestibility following a hypnotic induction. The data indicate that these are different constructs. Although the induction of hypnosis increases suggestibility to a substantial degree, the correlation between hypnotic and nonhypnotic suggestibility approximates the reliability coefficients of so-called hypnotizability scales. This indicates that hypnotic susceptibility scales are better measures of waking suggestibility than they are of hypnotizability. The discordance between conceptual and operational definitions of hypnotizability can be resolved either by changing the conceptual definitions of hypnosis and hypnotizability or by reinterpreting hypnotizability scores as indexes of nonhypnotic, imaginative suggestibility.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypnosis / methods*
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data*
  • Psychometrics
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Suggestion*
  • Treatment Outcome