According to education professor Lloyd P. Rieber (in his piece Animation, Incidental Learning, and Continuing Motivation that first appeared in the Journal of Educational Psychology) animated content possesses an intrinsically motivating appeal.
“Because animation can be thought of as the external visualization of an idea over time in a certain direction,” Rieber explains, “general theoretical support of animated visuals is believed to be provided by one of several theories of knowledge representation that support the use of visuals (pictures or other types) as an aid for memory or learning tasks.”
In addition to motivation, animation can also be an effective means of conveying information. “Animation is compelling,” Barbara Tversky and Julie Bauer Morrisony explain in their paper Animation: Can It Facilitate? “Animated graphics present information not available in the static versions, in particular the details of the microsteps between larger steps; that is, the minute spatial-temporal actions of components.”