suggestability test

Suggestibility Tests (Imagination/Concentration Exercises)

Using our imagination to re-create our sensory modalities allows us to produce some very powerful and convincing physical sensations.

These are some of the easiest to produce:

Heavy or light hands

Suggest to the other person that their hands are becoming very heavy or very light – or that one is becoming heavy and the other light.

Sour lemon

Suggest to the other person that they have a sour, lemony taste in their mouth.

Hot or heavy coin

Put a coin in the person's hand and suggest that the coin is becoming hotter and hotter, or heavier and heavier.

Tell them that when it becomes too hot or heavy, they can drop it.


The possibilities are endless.

Anything that produces an internal change (response) without the presence of an external trigger (stimulus) can be used to demonstrate the power of the mind.

Suggestibility Tests or Imagination/Concentration Exercises

You should not use suggestibility tests with your clients because if a client ‘fails’ a suggestibility test, it makes it much more difficult to help them achieve a satisfactory trance. It is much better to refer to these as imagination or concentration exercises, rather than tests.

We explain and demonstrate them because they are well-known, are used within research to calculate hypnotisability quotients and your clients may ask you about them.

Professional hypnotherapy practitioners have no need to use these and their use with clients demonstrates poor training of the hypnotherapist. There are much better methods to measure a client’s response to suggestion. Suggestibility tests are unecessary.

Hand-clasp test

Clasp your hands together (like this - demonstrate), tighter and tighter together … feel your fingers gripping more and more firmly … now … I want you to picture a heavy, metal clamp … and imagine the clamp being screwed tighter and tighter together … now … picture that clamp in your mind … and concentrate on it, see it, feel it … and as you do so … you will imagine that your hands are just like the jaws of that clamp … being screwed together … tighter and tighter together … as I count up to five … your hands will become locked together … tighter and tighter … and when I reach the count of five … they will be so tightly locked together … that they will feel just like a solid block of metal … and it will be difficult or impossible for you to separate them …” “ONE … tightly locked … TWO … tighter and tighter … THREE … very … very tight … your hands feel as if they are super glued together … FOUR … the palms of your hands are locked tightly together … FIVE … they are so tightly locked … that it will be impossible for you to separate them … until I count from five to one … the harder you try to separate the palms of your hands … the tighter your fingers will press upon the back of your hands … and the tighter your hands will become locked together …”

  • The tighter their hands are locked together, the more suggestible they are.

  • Once you have assessed how tightly clasped their hands are, you should tell them that you will release them.

  • Count down from five to one, and say that their hands become looser with each number.

  • At the count of one, tell them that their hands are back to normal and that they can pull them apart.

  • Afterwards, always tell them that all normal sensations have returned to their hands.

Important notice:

  • Do not use this test with your clients.

  • This method is for demonstration only and has no place in the consulting room.

Postural Sway Test

  • Ask the person to stand with their heels and toes together, their body straight, their shoulders back, their hands by their sides and their eyes closed.

  • Tell them to imagine that their feet are stuck to the floor, but that their body is free to move backwards and forwards, as though they were hinged at the feet.

  • Say that they will probably begin to feel unsteady after a while, and that they shouldn't worry, because you will catch them if they fall.

Say, “Just let yourself drift, like a tree blowing in the wind”.

  • Then remain silent for a while, watching for the slightest sway.

When it begins, reinforce it by saying “forward” if it is a forward sway or “backward” if it is a backward sway.

  • When they correct this initial sway by swaying in the opposite direction, reinforce this sway.

  • Continue to reinforce their swaying in a monotone, saying “forward” or “backward”.

  • When the sway has grown pronounced enough, you can tell them to fall backward.

  • Be sure to catch them!!

  • You can reinforce your suggestions by using imagery, such as a tree swaying in the wind.

Important notice:

  • Do not use this test with your clients.

  • This method is for demonstration only and has no place in the consulting room.

Chevreul's Pendulum Test

  • Have the person sit at a table, with one forearm resting on the surface. The elbow of the other arm rests on the table, with that forearm almost vertical and the string (usually about 6” or 15cm long) of the pendulum held between the thumb and index finger.

  • The weight should be about an inch (around 3cm) from the tabletop.

  • Make sure the pendulum is hanging straight down and not moving.

  • Put a piece of paper beneath it, with a cross drawn in the centre and wide circle drawn around that.

  • The pendulum should hang directly over the cross.

  • Have your subject imagine the pendulum swinging back and forth along the horizontal line.

  • Get them to follow the line with their eyes, but tell them not to consciously attempt to interfere with the pendulum’s movement.

  • After a while, the pendulum will begin to swing.

  • You can then suggest other movements of the pendulum, such as vertical swinging, or rotating clockwise or anti-clockwise.

Important notice:

  • Do not use this test with your clients.

  • This method is for demonstration only and has no place in the consulting room.

Eye-Roll Suggestibility Test

  • This suggestibility test can also be used to rapidly establish belief in the effectiveness of suggestions.

  • It is derived from the induction used in Spiegel’s Hypnotic Induction Profile.

  • Script

"Look toward me … and with your head in that position … I want you to roll your eyes up into your head … as if you were looking at a spot … on the top of your head … and … continue to look at that spot … even after you … close your eyes … let them close …”

  • If your subject does not close their eyes, then ask them to do so, in a firm tone of voice.

  • Failing to comply with this suggestion is usually a sign of resistance.

  • You can reinforce the suggestions by making downward passes with the open palm of your hand in front of your client’s eyes.

And continue to look at that spot … and you can now feel your eyelids sticking tighter and tighter together … tighter and tighter … tighter and tighter … and just keep looking at that spot …”

  • Watch for the movement of their eyes.

  • You should also look out for signs of eye catalepsy.

And you will find it very difficult to open your eyes now …”

  • If your subject opens their eyes then discontinue the test.

  • If they are unable to open their eyes it generally indicates that they will be an excellent subject.

  • People don’t usually realise that it is almost impossible to open their eyes when their eyeballs are rolled upwards.

  • They think that the effect has been produced by your suggestions, which convinces them that they are in trance.

  • Challenging

If your subject is unable to open their eyes you can challenge them by saying:

You can try to open your eyes but you will be unable to do so … in fact … the harder you try to open them … the more tightly they stick together … go ahead … try to open them …”

If your subject still cannot open their eyes, tell them to relax their eyes so that their eyelids can open:

And you can relax your eyes now … relax your eyes … and your eyelids will comfortably open … and it’s perfectly safe for them to open …”

Important Contraindications

Do not use if:

  • Your client has eye problems.

  • Your client wears contact lenses.

Pin It