During a recent episode of Britain’s Got Talent, Krystyna Lennon and her dog Princess, introduced as “Hypnodog,” took to the stage to audition for the show. Lennon claimed that her dog could hypnotize people just by staring into their eyes. Take a look at the video below before proceeding on to our explanation of how it works:

At first glance, the reaction of the volunteers looks unbelievable. But we believe there are several factors at play to explain what happened. If you don’t want the illusion pierced, don’t read any further!

Right off the bat, Lennon introduces the dog as a hypnotist. From that point on, everyone was under the impression that the dog was, without question, a hypnotist and that she possessed the ability to hypnotize them.

Lennon then carefully selected the audience members who appeared the most amazed and who seemed entranced to begin with. In other words, the candidates that she chose to be hypnotized were not entirely random, but she chose people who were the most in awe of the so-called Hypnodog.

Once the act began, the first candidate took the longest to become hypnotized because she had the least expectation. Everyone following her watched her and was under the impression that since she had fallen asleep, it must work.

Next, the audience was cheering and there were cameras, which both provided the volunteers a massive amount of pressure to perform. The volunteers also wanted to be hypnotized and were willing to be hypnotized, so their belief that they would fall asleep when staring into the dog’s eyes, bypassed their critical faculty (which is all that hypnosis really is).

Since Simon Cowell was very skeptical of the experiment and its potential to be effective on him, his critical faculty was not bypassed and he was not hypnotized.

With all that said, the volunteers were actually hypnotized. At the end of the performance, Lennon gave the suggestion that the number seven did not exist. The subjects attempted to count to ten using each of their fingers, but could only count to eleven, having skipped seven each time. This is called number amnesia and it is a test of deep trance.

The same act could have been just as effective with any other “prop,” such as a cat or a pocket watch, in place of the dog because of the expectations that were created and the context of the show. The music and editing also added a ton of drama to the performance and, additionally, without the human making suggestions verbally, the act wouldn’t have worked.