A team of researchers at University College London wanted to find out if hypnosis by any other name is still hypnosis. Two groups of people were put through the same hypnotic induction, but the first group were told it was ‘hypnosis’, while the second were told it was ‘relaxation’.
These two groups were then tested for their suggestibility. Those who were told they were going to be ‘hypnotised’ were significantly more suggestible than those who told they were going to be ‘relaxed’.
This study provides further fuel for the debate about whether or not hypnosis involves a real state change in the subject. Perhaps the use of the word hypnosis in describing what is going to happen has a stronger hypnotic effect. On the other hand the stronger argument seems to me that people are simply responding to a social signal to behave in a particular way that is better activated by using the word ‘hypnosis’.
Article Abstract [via BPS Research Digest]