Living Reference Work Entry

Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

pp 1-2

Date: Latest Version


  • Sonya Dal CinAffiliated withDepartment of Communication Studies, University of Michigan Email author 
  • , Michael P. HallAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Michigan
  • , Daniel S. LaneAffiliated withDepartment of Communication Studies, University of Michigan


Absorption is a distinct cognitive style of “total” attention that fully engages one’s representational (i.e., perceptual, enactive, imaginative, and ideational) resources and amplifies one aspect of reality over others (Tellegen and Atkinson 1974). Trait absorption is theorized to have a cognitive component, including flexibility of mental representation (e.g., “If I wish I can imagine (or daydream) some things so vividly that they hold my attention as a good movie or story does”) and a motivational-affective component similar to openness to experience (e.g., “Sometimes I feel as if my mind could envelope the whole world”).

Experience of Absorption

Those high in absorption are predisposed to experiences of altered sense of reality, which is phenomenologically vivid in the moment, but may appear in retrospect to be “unreal” or “imaginary.” Indeed, high absorption scores are correlated with trait hypnotic susceptibility (Tellegen and Atkinson 1974). More recent research has demo ...

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