The power of acting ‘As If’


My new book, Rip It Up, is based on a psychological idea known as the As If Principle.  I recently teamed up with the lovely and talented folk over at Cognitive Media to produce this great clip about the idea.

We also used the clip to run a fun experiment, examining the impact of this type of animation-based video compared to a standard talking head clip.  We had 2000 people come online (thanks to everyone who took part), and randomly assigned them to one of two groups.  One group watched a clip of me talking about the principle, whilst the other group saw the animation clip.

The results were fascinating and suggest that there is a 15% increase in the retention of information after watching the animation vs the talking head video.  There was also an impressive 66% increase in the amount of participants willing to share the animation.

More here.

23 comments on “The power of acting ‘As If’

  1. Chuffy the Horse says:

    Brilliant idea! Love it.

  2. hamishpringle says:

    Dear Richard,

    Really like the Cognitive Media video!

    Could 23red post it on their website?

    Would we need Cognitive Media’s permission and if so who is the key contact?

    With best wishes,


    P.S. Still working on event idea…

  3. Martha says:

    I’d’ve thought it’d be more than 15%, especially because the animation was so good! (I saw the video with Richard for the experiment. ) I wonder about that Harvard experiment, though – it’s 33 years old and, as far as I know, the results have never been replicated.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I really love Cognitive Media’s style of teaching, explaining things. It’s really fun and what’s being explained is already very well visualised in my head with their animations. It’s a good way of teaching & learning.

  5. The other Matt says:

    …very interesting. But if our job is to memorize the details for a short and a for longer period it will be more helpful to see only the speaker for more concentration.and less distraction.

    • You’re making the mistake of thinking that the visual of the speaker isn’t a distraction. To me, and apparently many people, seeing nothing but the person speaking is a wasted information stream. It should be a no-brainer to reinforce the spoken message with visual representations of the topic at hand.

      I’m certainly less engaged in things like TED talks when the video is nothing but the person standing on stage yapping on and on. I also don’t see the point of music videos that are nothing but uncreative shots of the band performing the song. Even if you’re not a visual thinker, you should still make use what you have to boost the message you’re trying to convey.

    • The other Matt says:

      Mmh, well i think that audio and video will be taken-up in different channels anyway. Maybe the comparisen of them will take some extra power.
      But maybe i find the “speaker version” better, because i saw it this version first. Then my brain set the video input to a kind of standby mode, because it was showed just the well known face of Mr. Wiseman. (Ok there is also a lot of info, but i just memorized that he was the speaker)

  6. Anonymous says:

    I love this type of video. They seem to be showing up everywhere recently. Did Cognitive Media invent the concept?

  7. […] Wiseman has put up a post on a youtube video on The Power of Acting ‘As If’ (the video is […]

  8. little chap says:

    I am thinking of some similarities and their connection. Following the hard-soft chair example, an experiment involving handing a cup of warm-cold coffee tumbler to a fellow passenger in lift and gauging their experiment afterwards. This was tested when they were asked to select a person for a job based on 5-minute so conversation.
    People handed warm tumbler were more likely to select the person.
    Note that people were unaware why they were handed the tumbler or what they were going to be asked later.
    But interesting.

  9. Reblogged this on Service This… and commented:
    Love the use of visuals to tell quick simple facts and stories

  10. […] via The power of acting ‘As If’ « Richard Wiseman. […]

  11. […] you Make it. Richard Wiseman, psychology professor at University of Hertfordshire, has written a book about this idea. I’ve got to read this […]

  12. Anonymous says:

    Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be interesting to read articles from other authors and practice something from other web sites.

  13. Aw, this was an exceptionally good post. Taking a few minutes and actual effort to make a superb article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and don’t seem to get nearly anything done.

  14. Hey there! I understand this is somewhat off-topic however
    I had to ask. Does building a well-established blog like yours require
    a large amount of work? I’m brand new to running a blog however
    I do write in my diary daily. I’d like to start a blog so I can easily share my personal experience and thoughts online.
    Please let me know if you have any kind of recommendations
    or tips for brand new aspiring blog owners. Thankyou!

  15. […] are the Primary cause of everything. British psychologist, Richard Wiseman calls this the “As If” principle —if you act as if you were calm, confident and happy then it’s likely that you will actually […]

  16. […] to change and letting him/her define who we are, instead of living life for the Audience of One. Research shows (check this video) that if we will act “as if” we are the person we aspire to be (which we could assume […]

  17. I have just become an animated illustrator at this very moment, after spending a few moments on this… is this a blog?
    At any rate, I may actually become a more active blogger, and with all things considered. Not that my first statement is in any way bogus! Indeed, I shall return presently with more skill in the area than I thought I had. It is the mode in which I roll LOL
    I clicked this page by pure happenstance. I must say it is the most enlightening moment for this day so far. (And it is getting on into the evening!)
    THANK YOU, Richard Wiseman and Crew! You receive my Chingawa of the Day Award: Chingawa!

  18. […] This latest series of videos uses the Link and Story Method – a visual mnemonic technique – to link together the names of all the Olympic cities from the 1st modern Olympiad in Athens to the current Games in Rio de Janeiro. By itself, research shows this mnemonic technique leads to an improvement in recall of up to 700%, but the use of whiteboard animation video adds a further 15% in information retention. […]

  19. […] Antti Revonsuo, un chercheur finlandais, a démontré que le cerveau utilise le rêve et l’imagination pour s’entraîner à vivre de nouvelles situations, d’y être préparé et de déclencher les réactions désirées. Comme pour la répétition d’une pièce de théâtre (2)! En parallèle, en 2012, une étude a révélé que le sourire pouvait réduire l’intensité du stress sur le corps peu importe que l’on soit réellement joyeux ou pas. Immergés dans des situations stressantes, les chercheurs ont comparé un groupe à l’expression faciale neutre, et un groupe qui devait sourire durant ces activités. En état de stress, le rythme cardiaque de ceux qui avaient souri était plus bas que celui des autres (3). Ici, un super explicatif animé (4)! […]

  20. […] positiva” (Just Do It). Puedes disfrutar del vídeo de nuestro querido Richard Wiseman en (por cierto, los dibujitos mejoran un 15% la retención de información respecto a un vídeo en el […]

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