Author(s): Richard Weisman
APA Style Citation
Wiseman, R. (2013). The as if principle: the radically new approach to changing your life. New York: Free Press.
Almost a 125 years after the first publication of The Principles of Psychology, modern research is providing evidence to validate the emotion theories of William James presented in psychology’s first textbook. Richard Wiseman’s book, The As If Principle provides an engaging examination of how the theories of William James are relevant today. James’ theory of emotion states, contrary to common sense, that emotions are the result of actions (laughing results in the emotion of joy vs. the emotion of joy causing individuals to laugh). Therefore, James concluded that if you wanted a have a particular trait, or to experience a given emotional state that one should behave “As If” you already possess it. The As If Principle highlights the decades of research, which support the practical implications of this theory such reducing pain levels in patients post surgery, treating phobias or other anxiety disorders, or reducing hostility. Embedded throughout the book are a variety of short exercises and activities, which can easily be translated into effective classroom demonstrations that provide empirically based method individuals can use to improve their lives and institute positive change. For example, the short two part activity titled Twenty Pieces offers insight into overcoming procrastination. The activity titled Change4Life, which was used by the author and the British government to encourage healthier behaviors by British citizens using the foot-in-the-door technique can be something students use in their own lives. The activity titled Thinking Outside the Box provides several simple and engaging activities to boost creativity. Additionally, the book helps to clarify psychological concepts from a variety of units including social psychology, history, research, motivation and emotion, cognition, learning, sensation and perception, and personality. The As If Principle provides a large variety of activities related specifically to the topics of motivation, willpower, persistence, procrastination, creativity, and negotiation.
Other Related Resources
A short one minute video describing the basics of the As If Principle.
Author Richard Wiseman’s webpage
This extensive website provides information about other books by Wiseman as well as a link to his fascinating blog which is full of amazing short videos that can be used in a variety of psychology units including biopsychology, sensation and perception, cognition, motivation, and emotion.
Psychological Figures and Concepts
Kenneth and Mamie Clark
Jane Elliot’s brown eyes blue eyes experiment
Sir Francis Galton
Big Five personality traits
Jigsaw method and learning
Mere exposure effect
Persuasion: foot-in-the-door and low ball technique
Robber’s Cave experiment
Two-factor theory of emotion