An integrative cognitive theory of suggestion and hypnosis
On the basis of a critical review of the literature in chapter one, it is concluded that no existing theory of hypnosis is able to provide a satisfactory account of the entire set of behavioural, cognitive, social and physiological evidence pertaining to the phenomenon. In an attempt to rectify this situation, an integrative conceptual framework amalgamating existing theories of hypnosis into a single model on the basis of contemporary cognitive psychological theory is presented in chapters two and three. According to the model, successfully executed suggestions result from the automatic activation of perceptual and behavioural representations following the receipt of triggers by low level attentional systems. By this view, the process involved in hypnotic and non-hypnotic suggestions are essentially the same; however, it is argued that contextual features and state changes associated with the hypnotic situation are responsible for the increased responsivity to suggestions typically displayed therein. In the following chapters, four studies designed to assess predictions from the model are described. In the first two, the related predictions that suggestibility is positively related to a low level processing predisposition and negatively related to a high level processing predisposition were assessed. Both studies provided support for the first hypothesis although no evidence for the second hypothesis was obtained. the third and fourth studies examined the related hypotheses that hypnosis is associated with (i) a low level processing bias; and (ii) a high level processing inhibition. Neither hypothesis received any significant empirical support. In the final chapter, the results of these studies are discussed with reference to the theoretical framework outlined in the introductory chapters. It is concluded that the model provides a fairly good account of suggestion, although certain revisions are required before an adequate account of hypnosis can be offered. Avenues for future research are explored.