While several theories assume that responses to hypnotic suggestions can be implemented without executive intentions, the metacognitive class of theories postulate that the behaviors produced by hypnotic suggestions are intended and the accompanying feeling of involuntariness is only a consequence of strategically not being aware of the intention. Cold control theory asserts that the only difference between a hypnotic and non-hypnotic response is this metacognitive one, that is, whether or not one is aware of one’s intention to perform the relevant act. To test the theory, we compared the performance of highly suggestible participants in reducing the Stroop interference effect in a post-hypnotic suggestion condition (word blindness: that words will appear as a meaningless foreign script) and in a volitional condition (asking the participants to imagine the words as a meaningless foreign script). We found that participants had equivalent expectations that the posthypnotic suggestion and the volitional request would help control the conflicting information. Further, participants felt they had more control over experiencing the words as meaningless with the request rather than the suggestion; and they experienced the request largely as imagination and the suggestion largely as perception. That is, we set up the interventions we required for the experiment to constitute a test of cold control theory. Both the suggestion and the request reduced Stroop interference. Crucially, there was Bayesian evidence that the reduction in Stroop interference was the same between the suggestion and the volitional request. That is, the results support the claim that responding hypnotically does not grant a person greater first order abilities than they have non-hypnotically, consistent with cold control theory.
Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.