Seeing Blue as Red: A Hypnotic Suggestion Can Alter Visual Awareness of Colors

Some highly hypnotizable individuals have reported changes in objects’ color with suggestions given in normal waking state. However, it is not clear whether this occurs only in their imagination. The authors show that although subjects could imagine colors, a posthypnotic suggestion was necessary for seeing altered colors, even for a hypnotic virtuoso. She reported posthypnotic color alterations also selectively in response to specific target shapes in briefly presented object arrays. Surprisingly, another highly hypnotizable person showed a very different pattern of results. The control participants could not simulate virtuosos’ results by applying cognitive strategies. The results imply that hypnosis can alter the functioning of automatic visual processes but only in some of the most hypnotizable individuals.