Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Simon, Seymore||Dean, Sanford J.||Feldman, Solomon E.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Psychology


Hypnotism; Mental suggestion


A growing body of research in hypnosis has been focused on the critical question of whether or not the condition of hypnosis is characterized by a "unique state of consciousness" which is separate and distinct from the waking state. Researchers opposed to this concept contend that behavior traditionally attributed to this unique state can be explained in more parsimonious terms. Although research findings have delineated some variables extrinsic to the hypnotic situation which affect "hypnotic" behavior (as traditionally conceived), no research findings have offered definitive and conclusive evidence concerning the existence of a unique conscious state of hypnosis. Much of the previous work in this area is marred by fakable dependent variables and confounded or uncontrolled independent variables. Using a learning paradigm, the present study is an attempt to test for the valid occurrence of posthypnotic amnesia and to provide a more definitive answer to the question of the existence of a unique state peculiar to hypnosis. Additionally, the effect of hypnosis on learning and recall, and the effects of sex and experimenter differences were also assessed. Ninety-six students, forty-eight females and forty-eight males, served as Ss. Each S was highly susceptible to hypnosis as determined by two screening procedures using standardized susceptibility scales. Each S successively learned two separate lists of paired-associates to a criterion of two consecutive errorless trials. Each list consisted of nine pairs of consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) trigrams and common English words. Each of three subsets of paired-associates on the second list were related to the paired-associates on the first list such that facilitation, interference and control subsets were present during the learning of the second list. Since transfer effects are dependent upon the retention of the first list, amnesia for the first list was expected to yield no differences between the transfer subsets. The experimental session began with the induction of hypnosis for each S. Subsequently, one-half of the Ss learned the first list while still hypnotized, while the remaining Ss were first awakened and then learned the first list. Each_S was then re-hypnotized. Subsequently, in a factorial design, Ss received one of three types of instructions either while hypnotized or while awake. The instructions were either to forget the first list, to remember the first list well, or were neutral with regard to recall of the first list. After appropriate instructions were administered, the Ss who were still hypnotized were awakened. All Ss then learned the second list. It was hypothesized that posthypnotic amnesia and/or enhanced retention (hypermnesia) would be reflected by differences in transfer that varied as a function of instructions and the condition under which these instructions were administered. The obtained results did hot support the existence of either posthypnotic amnesia or hypermnesia. Consequently, to the extent that posthypnotic amnesia is considered a predictable consequent of appropriate instructions in the hypnotic trance state, the results do not support the existence of a "unique state of consciousness" peculiar to hypnotic induction. Further, no evidence was found that learning is enhanced by hypnotic induction, nor that retention is either enhanced or impaired. Although all Ss who received "forget" instructions showed learning impairment, this impairment was not characterized by the selective responding in the learning task that true forgetting would have demanded. Finally, evidence of experimenter effects varying with the sex of Ss and treatment conditions was obtained. Implications of these findings were discussed and suggestions for future research were made.


Includes bibliographical references.||Includes illustrations.


vi, 146 pages




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