What is the psychology behind motivational videos

Study: The Effect of Motivational Videos

The power of images

Can motivational videos affect performance?

A picture is worth a thousand words. An image, a photo or the observation of a scene contains a great deal of information. It is interesting to see how differently the recorded information has an effect. Selective perception ensures that every person perceives and recognizes something different. Undoubtedly, motivational exercise videos can help improve your state of mind. You will have felt that too. The training after the TV broadcast of Olympic swimming finals is therefore somehow different ... mostly somehow: better!

Scientists blame the mirror neurons for this. So you can use targeted measures of the Observative learning (> CLICK) - that is, learning through observation alone - even practicing movements while lying on the sofa. Behind this is the so-called carpenter effect. You can actually use electromyography (EMG) to measure muscular activity at such moments without any visible movement. That sounds amazing! If you have understood and adapted the background for yourself, the moving image can thus become a performance-supporting factor!

Music can also have a stimulating effect, like one Study shows that we summarized here to have. So we can use the different channels of perception very strategically in order to get into an activated state. So create routines for yourself to use the power of images for yourself.

A tip: our DOC-SWIM YouTube channel with almost 200 videos!

Simply click on the motif and off you go to our channel. Have fun browsing ... and! … Don't forget your subscription!

In the video (see below) we talk about the different channels of perception

  • Visually
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic

and how we can use the respective preferences as athletes - and also as instructors - to increase motivation. A great opportunity!

Here is a study on the subject.

Study title

Effectiveness of motivational videos for elite swimmers: Subjective and biological evaluations

Authors: Hagiwara, G., Akiyama, D., Tsunokawa, T. & Mankyu, H., 2019

Published: Journal of Human Sport & Exercise, 14 (Proc2), S178-S188.


Motivational videos (MVs) are used in many competitive sports in Japan, for both professionals and amateurs. However, several researchers have found that the effectiveness of MVs has not been scientifically verified and only subjective assessments have been made in previous studies (Yamazaki & Sugiyama, 2009).

This study examined the psychological effectiveness of MVs using subjective and biological assessments.


The subjects were six Japanese elite college swimmers participating in the FINA World Swimming Championships (ages: 21.33 ± 0.51, four men and two women). We used subjective and biological assessments to examine the psychological motivation of these elite swimmers while observing an MV as part of their practice.

We introduced a subjective and self-reporting psychological condition inventory (Yamazaki et al., 2008) to measure the activation of the athletes while viewing the MV. An electroencephalogram (EEG) was used to assess the swimmers' emotions. The emotional state (vitality) was analyzed by combining the extracted raw EEG data using a KANSEI module logger (Littlesoftware, 2018).


A subjective evaluation showed that the evaluation of the Vitality significantly improved after observation of the MV (t = 2.33, p <0.05), which was also indicated by the results of the biological evaluation (t = 5.69, p <0.01). There was also a significant correlation between subjective and biological vitality after observing the MV (r = 0.77, p <0.01).

Conclusion of the authors of the study

The results of this study therefore indicated that biological assessment can be reapplied to check the effectiveness of MVs.

Find the channels of perception and motivation!

In this video we look for the different channels and find ways in which we can use them for ourselves. Whether in sport, at work, at school, during your studies or privately - knowing the individually preferred channel can move mountains. Simply click on the motif and the video will start. Have fun!