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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An experimental investigation of the effects of hypnotically induced suggestions on self concept and reading performance Koe, George Gerald


The purpose of this study was to investigate the extent to which post-hypnotic suggestions could be used to improve self concept rand to influence reading performance without instruction in reading. Self concept and achievement suggestions were compared to determine which would have the greater effect on subjective reports of improvement on the Debriefing Questionnaire and in scores on the Tennessee Self Concept Scale (TSCS) and Nelson-Denny Reading Test (N-D). Self-esteem and other-esteem suggestions were compared to determine which would have the greater effect on self concept. Fifty-two volunteer subjects from the University of British Columbia student population were assigned randomly to the cells of the design. A Latin-square design was used to administer four sets of tape-recorded post-hypnotic suggestions designed to improve either self concept or reading performance. Adaptations of Hartland's Ego Strengthening Technique were used. Hypnotic depth was measured during each session. Differences among groups were compared using a regression analysis with pre-test performance, IQ, susceptibility, hypnotic depth, and sex as covariates. Main effects were found for susceptibility on the Debriefing Questionnaire, N-D, and TSCS. On each measure, susceptible subjects scored higher than unsusceptible subjects. Main effects for tranceability were found on two subtests of the Debriefing Questionnaire and one subtest of the TSCS. On each measure, tranceable subjects scored higher than untranceable subjects. Post-hypnotic suggestion was found to be effective in improving some aspects of reading achievement and self concept. However, subjects were unable to relate subjective reports of the benefits of hypnosis with their actual test performance. Inability to identify correctly areas of improvement, when actual improvement was made, casts doubt on the usefulness of subjective reports of the efficacy of treatment in studies using hypnosis. Post-hypnotic suggestions directed towards altering the subject's perception of the opinion of others were found to be more effective than self-esteem suggestions in altering self concept. However, the high initial level of self-satisfaction may have confounded this result. A change in attitude may have also reduced the effectiveness of self-esteem suggestions. The study also suggested that post-hypnotic suggestions may be a negative and frustrating experience for highly susceptible subjects when the post-hypnotic suggestions do not meet subject expectations. The majority of subjects apparently expected suggestions in the area of self concept. This expectation may have decreased the effectiveness of achievement suggestions.

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