We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What Is Hypnotic Susceptibility?

By Melissa Barrett
Updated Feb 05, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

At its core, the concept of hypnotic susceptibility addresses the ability of a person to be hypnotized and to what degree that individual experiences the process. Historically, this inclination has been measured using several standardized tests relying on clinical observation and subject feedback. More recently, however, studies have shown that it may be possible to determine responsiveness using diagnostic equipment.

The term hypnotic susceptibility not only refers to a person’s ability to be hypnotized but also to the extent of which one may respond. For example, most individuals will experience the increased relaxation that is common to the first phase of hypnosis. The suggestion of altered physical sensations, which is frequently the next step in hypnosis, is experienced by fewer subjects. With each step in the process, a person becomes statistically less likely to respond. Therefore, the deepest effects of hypnosis, including age regression and insensitivity to pain, are felt by the smallest percentage of people.

The two most commonly used tests for determining hypnotic susceptibility are the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (HGSHS) and the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale (SHSS). Of the two, the SHSS is most useful in determining hypnotic inclination in an individual, while the HGSHS is best for comparative analysis in populations. Numerous other tests may be used to judge the depth of the hypnotic state, but these are generally informal.

In 1989, researchers at Pennsylvania State University published a study theorizing that hypnotic susceptibility could be measured by electroencephalography (EEG). Basically, the brain activity of individuals who were ranked as having clearly high or low scores on traditional susceptibility tests was measured by recording electrical activity of the brain through probes on the scalp. The conclusion of the study was that these individuals showed markedly different patterns of brain activity, especially within the cerebral cortical area. These tests gave psychologists a concrete way to study a concept that had been previously largely subjective.

In addition to providing a way to measure it, the study at Penn State also gave some insight into the biological factors that may influence hypnotic susceptibility. Previously poor susceptibility had been attributed to psychological components, such as defensiveness and mistrust. Focus on brain function, however, has given rise to new developments. One such discovery, reported in 1996 study by Washington University, is a strong correlation between the speed of natural blinking and the ease of which a subject may be hypnotized.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.