Using hypnosis to re-create "drunken" state; theories of hypnosis
A few years ago, I went through a phase of watching Derren Brown videos on YouTube, so I was pleasantly surprised that we got to see one of his videos in class (the one where he started asking someone for directions and had someone else switch places with him, and many people amusingly failed to notice).
Anyway, a lot of his videos are cool; he fakes psychic abilities and hypnotizes people and stuff, and you all should look him up if you want to see that kind of thing. I thought it would be fun to blog about this video, where he uses hypnosis to make a guy feel & act like he's drunk:
(The actual segment is 0:00-5:27 and 7:12-end; there's a brief digression in the middle).
Unfortunately, YouTube won't let me embed the video.
This video, others like it, and a stage hypnosis show I once saw in high school led me to gravitate toward the "sociocognitive theory" of hypnosis long before I knew it was called that. That is, I thought hypnosis wasn't really a special or spooky psychological phenomenon, but that it still had an interesting effect on people. I think it's sort of like normal human social behavior, but taken to an extreme.
The video above exemplifies the sociocognitive theory well, I think. The subject isn't truly a mind-controlled "zombie," but he is easily hypnotized thanks to a mixture of desires and social pressures: he'd like to feel pleasantly tipsy without any adverse effects, he wants to have fun and entertain his friends, and if the hypnosis thing works, he gets to be on TV! Being tipsy seems to be a familiar sensation for him, so it is easy for him to imagine himself into that state, and he seems to enjoy himself. He claims not to trust the hypnotist, but he doesn't seem to question his "powers" (he expects the hypnosis to work), and he seems not to mind performing for an audience. All these factors make him more likely to respond to hypnosis, according to sociocognitive theory.
I like how they did the "walk in a straight line" test to show how "drunk" the subject is, but it would be interesting to see how he would do on some less well-known tests of inebriation. I would predict he would perform the same as a sober person as long as he didn't know drunk people were expected to perform in a certain way!
The video doesn't test the "hidden observer" hypothesis, but from the way this hypothesis is explained in our text, "hidden observer" looks like just a hypnosis trick within a hypnosis trick, not that different from those moments when Derren Brown gets his "drunk" subject to quickly snap out of it.