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Impact Factor:0.906
Source:2014 Journal Citation Reports® (Thomson Reuters, 2015)

“Which Feels Heavier—A Pound of Lead or a Pound of Feathers?” A Potential Perceptual Basis of a Cognitive Riddle

  1. Jeffrey B Wagman
  2. Corinne Zimmerman
  3. Christopher Sorric
  1. Department of Psychology, Illinois State University, Normal, IL 61790-4620, USA
  1. e-mail: JeffreyWagman{at}ilstu.edu


“Which weighs more—a pound of lead or a pound of feathers?” The seemingly naive answer to the familiar riddle is the pound of lead. The correct answer, of course, is that they weigh the same amount. We investigated whether the naive answer to the riddle might have a basis in perception. When blindfolded participants hefted a pound of lead and a pound of feathers each contained in boxes of identical size, shape, and mass, they reported that the box containing the pound of lead felt heavier at a level above chance. Like the size—weight illusion, the naive answer to the riddle may reflect differences in how easily the objects can be controlled by muscular forces and not a perceptual or cognitive error.

  • Received June 13, 2007.
  • Revision received July 12, 2007.
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