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A Quantitative Review of the Effects of
Measuring Absorption in a Hypnotic Context.

The purpose of this paper is to examine the influence of the hypnotic setting or context on the Absorption and Hypnotic Susceptibility relationship. Tellegen & Atkinson (1974) define Absorption as the proclivity for episodes of "full commitment of available perceptual, motoric, imaginative, and ideational resources to a unified representation of the attentional object" (p. 274). The most commonly used measure of Absorption is the Tellegen Absorption Scale (TAS). The TAS has shown to be consistently and reliably related to hypnotic susceptibility. Correlations have generally ranged from .20 to .40, depending on the susceptibility scale used in the study.

Research by Council, Kirsch & Hafner (1986) and others have questioned the validity of this relationship. They suggest that by administering the Absorption scale before hypnosis implies to participants that imaginative involvement is important to hypnotizability. Consequently, the subjects use their answers on the questionnaire to form beliefs or expectations about their own responsiveness to hypnosis and behave according during the hypnotizability assessment. In other words, it is not the Absorption Scale per se, but these response expectancies that are the core of the susceptibility and Absorption relationship (Kirsch, 1991). Kirsch (1991) has extended this context hypothesis to include those situations that establish the hypnotic setting either before or after the administration of the TAS. The context hypothesis of Council et al., (1986) predicts that correlations between the TAS and hypnotizability will be higher when the TAS is measured within a hypnotic context than when the hypnotic context and TAS administration is kept separate.

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