Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Roberto Flachier

Second Advisor

Dr. Galen Alessi

Third Advisor

Dr. William Redmon


Limited behavioral research exists on the subject of hypnosis. A behavioral perspective maintains that a "responding to hypnosis suggestion" class of behaviors exists for each individual. For individuals more readily responsive to hypnosis suggestion, this "responding to hypnosis suggestion" class of behaviors exists at greater strength due to a previous history which strengthened these behaviors. These individuals respond strongly to hypnosis suggestions and behave as "high hypnotizables". For others, the "responding to hypnosis suggestion" class of behaviors exists at weaker strength due to the absence of the necessary history. These less responsive individuals could directly benefit from the many medical, dental, and psychological applications of hypnosis with improved responsiveness to hypnosis suggestion.

This study examined a behaviorally-based program designed to improve an individual's responsiveness to hypnosis suggestion by providing contact with the necessary environmental history. Subjects completed a pre-post research design examining responsiveness to hypnosis suggestion within various hypothesized response classes (motoric, cognitive, and sensory) and levels of pain threshold and pain tolerance. The experimental component consisted of controlled contact with hypnosis suggestions within and between specific response classes of behavior. Dependent measures examined patterns of change in hypnotizability, pain threshold, and pain tolerance as a function of selective training.

A two-way repeated measures analysis of variance revealed no statistically significant difference between the pre-posttest dependent measure change scores of the four respective treatment groups. A suggestive pattern resulted for the levels of pain threshold and pain tolerance measures as the (combined} Experimental group's outcomes demonstrated positive increases in these measures and the (combined) Control group's outcomes demonstrated slight reductions.

Although the results did not support the study hypotheses, the current research developed and incorporated a strong behavioral foundation for research with hypnosis. Future behavioral research would further develop this foundation by combining the incorporation of response class categories, the management of subject history, and Skinner's analysis of verbal behavior within hypnosis research protocols.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access