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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1985 Jan;48(1):125-32.

Individual differences in phenomenological experience: states of consciousness as a function of absorption.


State manifestations of the trait of absorption--a trait associated with differential responsivity to hypnosis, meditation, marijuana intoxification, and electromyograph (EMG) biofeedback--were assessed to determine (a) if absorption correlates with various (sub)dimensions of phenomenological experience, and (b) if individuals of differing absorption ability experience different states of consciousness. In two experiments 249 and 304 participants completed Tellegen's absorption scale and experienced several stimulus conditions. Each condition's phenomenological state was assessed by means of a retrospective self-report questionnaire and quantified in terms of intensity and pattern parameters. The results indicated that absorption correlated with increased and more vivid imagery, inward and absorbed attention, and positive affect; decreased self-awareness; and increased alterations in state of consciousness and various aspects of subjective experience. In addition, individuals of high absorption ability, relative to lows, experienced a different state of consciousness during ordinary, waking consciousness that became an altered state with eye closure and an hypnoticlike induction. The usefulness of the results for understanding altered-state induced procedures such as hypnosis is discussed.

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