Dr Vin­ce Poli­to, a co-aut­hor of the stu­dy from CCD, told Buz­z­Feed News

Earlier this year a study was published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology (published under the American Psychological Association)

Ear­lier this year a stu­dy was publis­hed in the Jour­nal of Expe­ri­men­tal Psy­cho­lo­gy (publis­hed under the Ame­ri­can Psy­cho­lo­gi­cal Asso­cia­ti­on) that found hyp­no­sis can have pro­found effects on exe­cu­ti­ve func­tion – the cogni­ti­ve pro­ces­ses that regu­la­te our goals as well as the thought pro­ces­ses and actions ori­en­ted towards achie­ving tho­se goals.

This is known as the Cle­ver Hands test and it has been used in pre­vious expe­ri­ments that have shown that peop­le are unab­le to switch off their uncon­scious moti­va­ti­on for ans­we­ring the tri­via ques­ti­ons correctly.

Tru­ly ans­we­ring the ques­ti­ons at ran­dom would logi­cal­ly give an accu­ra­cy rate of around 50% for “yes” or “no” ques­ti­ons but that is not seen in the results of the­se trials.

Dr Vin­ce Poli­to, a co-aut­hor of the stu­dy from CCD, told Buz­z­Feed News that peop­le are unab­le to switch off their auto­ma­tic respon­se mecha­nism even when moti­va­ted by money or pla­ced under time constraints.

“You know you’­re in love when you can’t fall asleep becau­se
rea­li­ty is final­ly bet­ter than your dreams.”

The rese­ar­chers found that hyp­no­ti­sing par­ti­ci­pants suc­cess­ful­ly inhi­bi­ted their auto­ma­tic ten­den­cy to cor­rect­ly ans­wer the easy questions.

Mosaic gal­le­ry frin­gil­la vela­li­quet nec vul­pu­ta­te eget arcuin 

This suc­cess­ful respon­se to the Cle­ver Hands test high­lights a poten­ti­al for hyp­no­sis in “trea­ting addic­tions or com­pul­si­ve beha­viours, whe­re peop­le don’t feel like they’­re able to inhi­bit very ing­rai­ned respon­ses”, said Polito.

One 2002 stu­dy demons­tra­ted that by hyp­no­ti­sing par­ti­ci­pants and sug­ges­ting that the lan­guage that appears on a screen is for­eign and they are unab­le to under­stand it, the Stroop effect is over­co­me and par­ti­ci­pants will cor­rect­ly name the font colour.

Howe­ver, while Poli­to sta­tes that the­re is a gene­ral con­sen­sus in the hyp­no­sis field that this expe­ri­ment gave true results, the­re are some con­tro­ver­sies atta­ched to the Stroop effect stu­dy, with some fail­u­res to repli­ca­te its results.

Insta­gram post wid­get ipsum dolor

The abi­li­ty to be hyp­no­ti­sed (hyp­no­tisa­bi­li­ty) varies across the popu­la­ti­on.
Appro­xi­mate­ly 10–15% of peop­le are known as “high hyp­no­tis­able” and they will expe­ri­ence alte­ra­ti­ons in per­cep­ti­on, cogni­ti­on, memo­ry and action while under hyp­no­sis. Ano­t­her 10–15% are “low hyp­no­tis­able” and the­se are peop­le who expe­ri­ence almost not­hing in respon­se to suggestion.

McAu­ley belie­ves that the most important com­po­nent in regu­la­ting the hyp­no­tism mar­ket would be trans­pa­ren­cy for consumers.

“What I would like to know if I went to see some­bo­dy is what trai­ning they’­ve had. Whe­ther there’s a regu­la­to­ry body that over­sees that [is not of con­cern] but I’d like to at least know whe­re they were trai­ned and what sort of trai­ning they’­ve had.”

Polito’s grea­test con­cern with Australia’s lack of hyp­no­sis regu­la­ti­on is that this may under­mi­ne the bene­fits of the prac­ti­ce that sci­ence is uncovering.

“It’s con­cer­ning as a sci­en­tist stu­dy­ing hyp­no­sis thin­king ‘This is an important and inte­res­ting phe­no­me­non’. The kind of nega­ti­ve asso­cia­ti­ons around hyp­no­sis make it har­der to have this work taken more seriously.”