Hypnotic suggestibility scales

Warning: This page contains links to downloads of materials useful for hypnosis research. They are provided as an aid to the professional research community.

These scales are not intended for use by anyone unqualified in the use of hypnosis. There are genuine dangers in unqualified individuals practising hypnosis.

Like any area of academic research or clinical practice it is essential to work within the bounds of your own qualifications and competencies. Good practice guidelines indicate it is best to observe somebody else perform a test before you attempt it yourself, and then to work under their supervision.

Copyright notice: Some of these scales are in the public domain, others are out of press. I have tried not to infringe anyone's copyrights, but if you are the copyright owner of one of these scales then please get in touch.

Information about hypnotic susceptibility testing

Accurate testing of 'suggestibility', 'hypnotic suggestibility' and 'hypnotizability' is an issue fundamental to hypnosis research. A myriad of different scales have been developed (see below). Susceptibility scales can be delivered individually or in groups.

There are a number of helpful presentations regarding hypnotic susceptibility testing on John Kihlstrom's website including:

Preliminary instructions for scales

Some investigators added additional preliminary instructions prior to the adminstration of a suggestibility scale.

  • Task Motivation Instructions (Barber, 1969, p46)
  • Human Potential Instructions (Barber, Spanos & Chaves, 1974, pp 119ff)
  • "Think With" Instructions (Barber & Wilson, 1977): "In this study we’re going to give you a series of tests in which I’ll ask you to focus your thinking and to use your imagination creatively to produce certain effects and to experience certain events” (Barber, 2000, p. 266)
  • Rapport building (e.g. John Kihlstrom's rapport building script)

Hypnotic suggestibility scales

Some of the descriptions below of hypnotic susceptibility scales are taken from Council (2002).

Arizona Motor Scale of Hypnotizability (1994) Description from John Kihlstrom's website:
The Arizona Motor Scale of Hypnotizability (AMSH) is so named because it focuses on ideomotor suggestions within the domain of hypnosis (Hilgard, 1965; Kihsltrom, 2008). It was originally developed at the University of Arizona to explore the distinction between "direct" and "challenge" suggestions in the factor structure of hypnosis. The AMSH was never intended for general use, or as a substitute for the scales traditionally employed in hypnosis research, such as the Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form A (HGSHS:A), and the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales, Form A (SHSS:A) and Form C (SHSS:C). For this reason, I have hesitated to publish the AMSH itself in any form.
Barber Suggestibility Scale (BSS) (Barber & Wilson, 1978) Developed as a quick, and easy to administer test of suggestibility. The BSS consists of eight items, and takes approximately 10-12 minutes to administer. The test can either be defined as a test of hypnosis (including a hypnotic induction) or as a test of imagination (without an induction). Scored objective and subjective responses. Perry, Nadon & Button (1992) report that the BSS was largely abandoned in favour of the CURSS.
Carleton University Responsiveness to Suggestions Scale (CURSS) (Spanos et al, (1983) Like the BSS the CURSS came from the sociocognitive tradition. It can be thought of a group version of the BSS. It has considerable normative data and strong psychometric properties. Consists of seven items: two ideomotor (arm levitation, arms moving apart), two motor challenge items (arm catalepsy, arm immobility), and three cognitive suggestions (auditory hallucination, visual hallucination, and amnesia for all preceding events). The CURSS was never published, although Spanos apparently made it available to those who requested it for research.  
Childrens Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale (CHSS) (London, 1962)    
Creative Imagination Scale (CIS) (Barber & Wilson, 1978) A useful short test of non-hypnotic suggestibility. It was developed in response to a perception that the BSS was too authoritarian and direct. The CIS presents the experience of responding to suggestion as being under the individual's control - the administrator takes the role of guide or coach. The CIS is a 10-item test of 'imaginative suggestibility'. As such, it does not involve a hypnotic induction but instead looks at responses to suggestion in the absence of hypnosis.
Davis & Husband Scale (Davis & Husband, 1931) Covered a wide range of hypnotic behaviours, but was criticised for not specifying standard test suggestions, or explicit criteria for whether suggestions were passed or failed.  
Eysenck & Furneaux Scale (Eysenck & Furneaux, 1945) Developed to invesitgate primary and secondary suggestibility. Included items realted to eye closure, relaxation, catalepsy, hallucinations, and amnesia. Only used in the authors' own research.  
Friendlander-Sarbin Scale (Friedlander & Sarbin, 1938) One of the first hypnotic susceptibility scales. Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard modified this scale to create the Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scales
Gudjonsson Suggestibility Scale (GSS) (Gudjonsson, 1984) Measures interrogative suggestibility. This is a different form of suggestibility from hypnotic/imaginative suggestibility. Interrogative suggestibility tends not to correlate with hypnotic suggestibility.

Harvard Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility: Form A (HGSHS: A) (Shor & Orne, 1962) Based on the SHSS:A, the HGSHS:A permits the economies of group testing. The HGSHS:A is a very widely used scale.
Hypnotic Induction Profile (HIP) (Spiegel & Spiegel, 1978) The HIP was developed in a clinical setting for clinical applications. It uses an 'eye roll' test which is theorised to indicate an individual's biologically-based capacity for trance. Council (2002) notes that a number of studies have failed to find a relationship between the eye roll sign and other concentional measures of hypnotisabulity.   
LeCron and Bordeaux Scale (LeCron & Bordeaux, 1949) Developed to tap a wider range of hypnotic behaviours. It contained 50 symptoms of phenomena, all of which scored 2 points each if they were present. Criticised for not presenting any normative data.  
Revised Stanford Profile Scales of Hypnotic Susceptibility: Forms I and II (Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1967)    
Stanford Hypnotic Arm Levitation Induction and Test (SHALIT) (Hilgard, Crawford, Wert, 1979) A single item test, consisting of an arm levitation/hypnotic induction. Designed for clinical use  
Stanford Hypnotic Clinical Scale for Adults (SHCS: Adult)    
Stanford Hypnotic Clinical Scale for Children (SHCS: Child)    
Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale: Forms A and B (SHSS: A and B) (Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1959) SHSS:A and SHSS:B are parallel forms emphasizing motor items, which makes test-retest studies possible. However, they contain primarily motor items and are therefore not sensitive to differences between the most responsive subjects.   
Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale: Form C (SHSS: C) (Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1962) SHSS:C contains more difficult suggestions, typically cognitive suggestion, including hallucination and age regression. Also presents items in increasing order of difficulty. The SHSS:C has come to serve as the standard against which all other scales are compared (Kihlstrom, 1985; Woody & Barnier, 1996)
Stanford Profile Scales of Hypnotic Susceptibility: Forms I and II (Weitzenhoffer & Hilgard, 1963) The Stanford Profile Scales of Hypnotic Susceptibility (SPSHS), available in two parallel forms (I and II), and permit assessment individual strengths and weaknesses within the general domain of hypnosis, somewhat in the manner of the profiles derived from subscales of the WAIS or MMPI (Kihlstrom, 1985). The purpose is not to obtain a single overall score, but to generate a profile of strengths and weaknesses.  
Sussex-Waterloo Scale of Hypnotizability (SWASH) (Lush, Moga, McLatchie, Dienes, 2018) The SWASH is a 10-item adaptation of the Waterloo-Stanford Group C Scale of Hypnotic Suggestibility (WSGC). Development of the SWASH was motivated by three distinct aims: to reduce required screening time, to provide an induction which more accurately reflects current theoretical understanding and to supplement the objective scoring with experiential scoring. Screening time was reduced by shortening the induction, removing two suggestions which may cause distress (dream and age regression) and by modifications which allow administration in lecture theatres, so that more participants can be screened simultaneously. Theoretical issues were addressed by removing references to sleep, absorption and eye fixation and closure.
Waterloo Stanford Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility (WSGS) (Bowers, 1993, 1998) A group adaptation of the individually administered Stanford Hypnotic Susceptibility Scale, Form C (SHSS:C)
Warmth Suggestibility Scale (WSS) (Gheorghiou, Polczyk, Kappeller, 2003) A test to measure sensory suggestibility  
White Scale (White, 1930) Used a quantitatively scored series of specific suggestions graded from easy to difficult  

Measures which have been thought to correlate with hypnotic suggestibility

See the measurement page for more information about correlates of hypnotic susceptibility.

  • PDF The Tellegen Absorption Scale (Tellegen & Atkinson, 1974) is a 34-item questionnaire which measures the capacity to become absorbed. It is part of the larger Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire developed by Auke Tellegen. John Kihlstrom's website has a useful page of information on the TAS. I have removed the copy of the TAS that was here at the request of the University of Minnesota Press. The test is available for research use. For more information see Upress.umn.edu
  • PDF The Dissociative Experiences Scale (Bernstein & Putnam, 1986) is a 28-item scale measuring dissociative experiences. This paper suggests that modifications to the scoring scale might generate more normally-distributed results. Download the DES (0.1MB pdf)


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