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You’re being judged by your social status

By on November 10, 2014
Picture courtesy of Ambro and

This is going to sound obvious, and in many ways it is. But there is an important lesson for hypnotists here, and we would do well to keep it in mind before we speak to our hypnosis clients.

Recent research carried out in Germany by a team of german researchers, including neuroscientists from the Max Planck Institute, measured brain responses when the subjects listened to both true and false statements from an unknown person, a news anchor and a politician.

The subjects were then asked a series of questions about the speakers likability and competence. However the researchers were primarily measuring the subject’s brain responses. They found that the subject’s brain responded differently, with an ‘earlier state’ (indicating more active) response when the politician made a false statement, but only when that false statement was political in nature.

The researchers concluded that the subjects were potentially more receptive to a false statement regarding a political outcome, from a politician, because the politician had the ‘potency’ (i.e. the power) to influence the outcome.

Application to Hypnosis

In order for your statement about the chances that your hypnosis client will achieve the outcomes she has come to see you for, she must believe you have the potency or power to lead her to these outcomes.

Now, this is pretty obvious as a statement. And most hypnotists do use testimonials, client stories and other means to establish their credibility to lead the client to change. However this research adds the important point that only when the client truly believes in your hypnotic ability will her unconscious mind respond to your statements about her specific change. Convincing your client of your potency is not an intellectual matter, but something key to unlocking her unconscious cooperation.

Here is a link to the original research.

Little is known to date about how language processing in the brain is affected by the hearers knowledge about the speaker. Here, we investigated the impact of social attributions to the speaker by measuring event-related brain potentials while participants watched videos of three speakers uttering true or false statements Yes, You Can? A Speakers Potency to Act upon His Words Orchestrates Early Neural Responses to Message-Level Meaning

Now the results of the research were clear, however we should mention that the researchers’ conclusions are a little controversial and fellow scientists have argued the researchers overstated the conclusions that could be drawn from this research. We link to an article from discussing these counterarguments below.

Whatever the ultimate findings, this research offers another good reason to establish your bona fides with your client well before you talk about their specific issue.

A speakers social status can affect how we interpret their words, a German study has found… The study, published in the journal PLOS ONE, involved researchers showing the study’s 18 German participants videotapes of a powerful politician (the German Federal Minister of Finance at the time of the experiment), and an unknown person, making both true and false statements. Study links social status to how we comprehend meaning

Picture courtesy of Ambro and

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