How hypnosis happens

New cognitive theories of hypnotic responding

Amanda J. Barnier*, Zoltan Dienes, Chris J. Mitchell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)


This chapter explains the primary phenomenology of hypnosis with two new accounts of how hypnosis happens. First, it discusses in more detail the phenomena to be explained and the questions that have been addressed. Then, it briefly and selectively reviews previous generations of cognitive theories that have influenced and informed the answers to those questions. This article introduces two new accounts: Dienes and Perner's (2007) cold control theory of hypnosis and Barnier and Mitchell's (2005) discrepancy-attribution theory of hypnotic illusions. Both these accounts have been presented together as they share a number of features, especially their roots in contemporary cognitive psychology. Both of the theoretical accounts that have been presented in this chapter reconsider the role of expectations in hypnosis. And the article argues at least for one of the accounts that hypnotic responses feel like they do, not because they meet expectations, but because they violate them.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Hypnosis
Subtitle of host publicationTheory, Research, and Practice
EditorsMichael R. Nash, Amanda J. Barnier
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages27
ISBN (Electronic)9780191743733
ISBN (Print)9780198570097
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

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    Barnier, A. J., Dienes, Z., & Mitchell, C. J. (2008). How hypnosis happens: New cognitive theories of hypnotic responding. In M. R. Nash, & A. J. Barnier (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Hypnosis: Theory, Research, and Practice (pp. 141-177). New York: Oxford University Press.