Hypnosis and Creativity Testing


Dr. Rodney Chang, 1977

Study at with Chaminade University, Hawaii



The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that individuals would perform better on conventional creativity tests when in the hypnotic trance state than when in the conscious condition. It was theorized by the author that this results from removal, while in the trance state, of certain response limitations. These limitations are defined by the social norm of disapproval for divergence from stereotypical thinking.

Nine female college psychology students took equivalent creativity tests in the hypnotic trance and in the normal conscious state. The responses were evaluated by five female college psychology students for creativeness. The subjects and the judges were limited to one gender to control the possibility of confounding of the results due to gender bias in answer interpretation.

It was found that the independent variable of hypnosis had an adverse effect on the scores for creativity content of the responses (p less than or equal to .o1) This is the opposite result from what was predicted.

Two major criteria for evaluating creative content in test answers are "fluency" (number of responses) and "originality" (unusualness). It was found that the difference in fluency content between responses of the different test conditions was not statistically significant. Therefore it may be conjectured that hypnosis has a negative effect on the originality factor of creative thinking. This may be due to the dissociative effect of the trance state on coherent logical thinking.

However, the reported adverse effect of hypnosis on creativity testing may be due to "inappropriateness" of the hypnotic responses as determined by the judges using criteria as set by the conscious state or society in general. Or it may be that a separate cognitive evaluative system is operational in the unconscious mind. A subsequent experiment of having hypnotized judges rate the identical response cards of this study will be considered in hopes of elucidating the questions now being raised