Hypnotic Clever Hands: agency and automatic responding

Vince Polito*, Amanda J. Barnier, Michael H. Connors

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    The Clever Hands task (Wegner, Fuller, & Sparrow, 2003) is a behavioral illusion in which participants make responses to a trivia quiz for which they have no sense of agency. Sixty high hypnotizable participants completed two versions of the Clever Hands task. Quiz One was a replication of the original study. Quiz Two was a hypnotic adaptation using three suggestions that were based on clinical disruptions to the sense of agency. The suggestions were for: random responding, thought insertion, and alien control. These suggestions led to differences in accuracy (action production) and estimates of accuracy (action projection). Specifically, whereas the random responding suggestion had little effect, the two clinically based suggestions had opposite impacts on action production: the thought insertion suggestion led to an increase in the rate of correct responses (although participants still believed they were responding randomly); while the alien control suggestion led to a reduction in the rate of correct answers and a pattern of results that more closely approximated randomness. Contrary to theoretical accounts that claim that hypnosis affects executive monitoring rather than executive control, this result indicates that specific hypnotic suggestions can also influence the implicit processes involved in action production.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)815-828
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Experimental Psychology: General
    Issue number6
    Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


    • agency
    • control
    • executive monitoring
    • hypnosis
    • involuntariness


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