Do Actors Possess Traits Associated With High Hypnotizability?

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Characteristics that help actors behave as if what they imagine is real are also factors shown to predict hypnotizability: imaginative suggestibility (Sheehan, McConkey, & Law, 1978), absorption (Silva, Bridges, & Metzger, 2005; Kirsch & Braffman, 2001), and fantasy proneness (Allen & Coyne, 1995; Kirsch & Braffman, 2001). In a small preliminary study, we investigated whether acting students score higher in skills and personality traits associated with hypnosis in comparison to students studying another art form (music) and students not studying the arts. Sixteen acting students, 13 music students, and 20 nonarts students completed the Creative Imagination Scale (CIS), the Tellegen Absorption Scale (TAS), and the Creative Experiences Questionnaire (CEQ). Acting students showed greater imaginative suggestibility (as measured by the CIS) and fantasy proneness (as measured by the CEQ), and absorption (as measured by the TAS) than did both music and nonarts students. Because these traits have been shown to be associated with hypnotizability, we suggest that acting students may be more hypnotizable than are nonacting students. Most importantly, these findings can help us understand how actors are able to convincingly “become” their character.

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