Which weighs more—a pound of lead or a pound of feathers? (It’s trickier than you think):


Yeah, a pound is a pound — but when hefted by blindfolded study participants the pound of lead even FELT heavier, leading scientists to believe the question is more nuanced than you might think:

“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.

Source: “Which feels heavier—a pound of lead or a pound of feathers?” A potential perceptual basis of a cognitive riddle” from the journal “Perception”

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