Methodological Approach to Hypnosis

Hypnosis research aimed to investigate theoretical tenets of specific camps has been shaped most recently by the manner in which the cognitive-behavioral perspective approaches investigation of the state theories of hypnosis. According to the cognitive-behavioral camps, early state theorists did not concentrate upon methodological processes. Instead, they made assumptions and drew conclusions about the hypnotic domain as a result of visual evidence and verbal reports. Contemporary non-state theorists began to realize the implicit mistrust associated with verbal reports and quantifiable response indices upon which the state theorists grounded their understanding of hypnosis(Spanos & Chaves, 1991).

Hypnotic research beginning with C.L. Hull (1933) focused on the systematic application of methodological processes to hypnotic phenomena. After the introduction of the methodological tradition and empirically based research by Hull, modern investigators were provided with empirical standards and a shared set of language with which to discuss and anchor theoretical ideas. Empirical research only became earnest by cognitive behaviorists in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s with the work of Orne (1959) and Barber (1969).

Since the induction of the methodological tradition to the hypnotic research perspective, empirically based research has become the foundation for the cognitive-behavioral split from the state theories (Spanos & Chaves, 1991). The cognitive-behavioral perspective and traditional perspectives differ with respect to many characteristics of the hypnotic domain. These differences arise primarily as a result of the empirically based cognitive-behavioral hypnotic theory’s historical shift from the traditional hypnotic state theories.