The great variation in the degree to which people respond to hypnotism is one of the most important discoveries in hypnosis research. In general, about 15 percent of the population show a high degree of hypnotic responsiveness, while 5 to 10 percent show no effect at all (they seem unable to be hypnotized). The rest of the population falls somewhere between these extremes.
Another generality is that hypnotic susceptibility rises in childhood to a maximum in the preteenage years, then declines slowly thereafter (see another article in my main page). But the variation in scores in this cycle is in fact quite low, an indication that susceptibility to hypnosis is essentially stable over time.
An individual who is highly responsive to hypnotism today will usually be highly responsive 10 years from now; and a person who shows low responsiveness is not likely to develop high responsiveness in the future.
High responsiveness to hypnotism, however, is not indicative of a general personality trait of suggestibility: The person who is responsive to hypnotism is not likely to be more suggestible or compliant than other people in nonhypnotic situations (Orne, 1977). Evans (1977) has found that people who are highly susceptible to hypnotism are more likely to be able to control sleep. That is, they can fall asleep easily and in different
locations, take daytime naps, and so on. These Individuals may have a general ability to control their level of consciousness. For example, people who are highly susceptible to hypnotism also learn meditation techniques rapidly.
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