The hidden observer: A straw horse, undeservedly flogged

John F. Kihlstrom*, Amanda J. Barnier

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The 'hidden observer' experiment by Green, Page, Handley and Rasekhy is criticized on methodological grounds, especially the inadequate screening of subjects and departure from the canonical principles of both Hilgard's 'hidden observer' technique and Orne's real-simulator design. We also highlight some results of the experiment which appear to undercut the investigators' conclusions - especially the fact that reals and simulators differed markedly in their response to the critical Less Aware instruction. Our principal criticism, however, is conceptual: it is the very nature of hypnosis that the hypnotic subject's behaviours and experiences will be influenced by the wording of suggestions and subjects' interpretations of them. Accordingly, evidence that covert reports are influenced by the wording of suggestions is not evidence that the hidden observer is a methodological artifact, or that it is not a reflection of divided consciousness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)144-151
Number of pages8
JournalContemporary Hypnosis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The hidden observer: A straw horse, undeservedly flogged'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this