Hypnotizability, personality traits, and the propensity to experience alterations of consciousness.

Cardeña, Etzel and Terhune, Devin Blair. 2014. Hypnotizability, personality traits, and the propensity to experience alterations of consciousness. Psychology of Consciousness: Theory, Research, and Practice, 1(3), pp. 292-307. ISSN 2326-5523 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

How hypnotizability relates to personality traits other than absorption has received scant attention even though hypnotizability exhibits clear and stable individual differences. Two personality constructs particularly germane to hypnotizability are mental boundaries and self-transcendence, because they seem to index the propensity to experience alterations in consciousness. We conducted 2 studies to evaluate their relations with behavioral and experiential measures of hypnotizability, and with absorption. In Study 1 (N = 112 U.S. participants), experiential, but not behavioral, measures of hypnotizability, correlated with the personal (e.g., porosity in interpersonal relations or in states of consciousness), but not the world (e.g., opinions of others), subscale of boundary thinness and with absorption. In Study 2 (N = 84 Swedish participants), self-transcendence as a whole, as well as 2 of its 3 subscales (self-forgetfulness and transpersonal identification) related to hypnotizability, especially as measured experientially. Absorption correlated with an index of experiential hypnotizability in both studies, but was not reliably related to behavioral hypnotizability. Women scored significantly higher than men in self-transcendence, and indeterminately so in experiential measures of hypnotizability. Our studies suggest that although hypnotizability may not be subsumed under traditional personality traits, it relates to traits involving a propensity to have nonconceptual, self-transcendent modes of experiencing. They also highlight the importance of supplementing behavioral indices of hypnotizability with experiential ones.

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Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Psychology > Timing, Awareness, and Suggestion Lab


September 2014Published

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Date Deposited:

16 Mar 2016 22:03

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:14

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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