Object size can influence perceived weight independent of visual estimates of the volume of material.

M.A. Plaisier, J.B.J. Smeets

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The size-weight illusion is the phenomenon that the smaller of two equally heavy objects is perceived to be heavier than the larger object when lifted. One explanation for this illusion is that heaviness perception is influenced by our expectations, and larger objects are expected to be heavier than smaller ones because they contain more material. If this would be the entire explanation, the illusion should disappear if we make objects larger while keeping the volume of visible material the same (i.e. objects with visible holes). Here we tested this prediction. Our results show that perceived heaviness decreased with object size regardless of whether objects visibly contained the same volume of material or not. This indicates that object size can influence perceived heaviness, even when it can be seen that differently sized objects contain the same volume of material.
Original languageEnglish
Article number17719
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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