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written by Michael McCloskey, Allyson Washburn, and Linda Felch
This study examines the nature and origin of a common misconception about moving objects.  We first show through the use of pencil-and-paper problems that many people erroneously believe that an object that is carried by another moving object (e.g., a ball carried by a walking person) will, if dropped, fall to the ground in a straight vertical line.  (In fact, such an object will fall forward in a parabolic arc.)  We then demonstrate that this "straight-down belief" turns up not only on pencil-and-paper problems but also on a problem presented in a concrete, dynamic fashion (Experiment 1) and in a situation in which a subject drops a ball while walking (Experiment 2).  We next consider the origin of the straight-down belief and propose that the belief may stem from a perceptual illusion.  Specifically, we suggest that objects dropped from a moving carrier may be perceived as falling straight down or even backward, when in fact they move forward as they fall.  Experiment 3, in which subjects view computer-generated displays simulating situations in which a carried object is dropped, and Experiment 4, in which subjects view a videotape of a walking person dropping an object, provide data consistent with this "seeing is believing" hypothesis.
Subjects Levels Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Alternative Conceptions
- Lower Undergraduate
- Reference Material
= Research study
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This article may be purchased or accessed with a journal subscription. http://www.apa.org/journals/subscriptions.html
Restriction:
© 1983 APA
Additional information is available.
ISSN Number:
0278-7393
Keywords:
Beliefs, Mechanics (Physics), Motion, Visual Perception, Visual Stimuli, misconception
Record Creator:
Metadata instance created July 13, 2005 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
August 9, 2020 by Lyle Barbato
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Record Link
AIP Format
M. McCloskey, A. Washburn, and L. Felch, , J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cognit. 9 (4), 636 (1983), WWW Document, (https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.9.4.636).
AJP/PRST-PER
M. McCloskey, A. Washburn, and L. Felch, Intuitive physics: The straight-down belief and its origin, J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cognit. 9 (4), 636 (1983), <https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.9.4.636>.
APA Format
McCloskey, M., Washburn, A., & Felch, L. (1983). Intuitive physics: The straight-down belief and its origin. J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cognit., 9(4), 636-649. Retrieved August 18, 2022, from https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.9.4.636
Chicago Format
McCloskey, M, A. Washburn, and L. Felch. "Intuitive physics: The straight-down belief and its origin." J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cognit. 9, no. 4, (1983): 636-649, https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.9.4.636 (accessed 18 August 2022).
MLA Format
McCloskey, Michael, Allyson Washburn, and Linda Felch. "Intuitive physics: The straight-down belief and its origin." J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cognit. 9.4 (1983): 636-649. 18 Aug. 2022 <https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.9.4.636>.
BibTeX Export Format
@article{ Author = "Michael McCloskey and Allyson Washburn and Linda Felch", Title = {Intuitive physics: The straight-down belief and its origin}, Journal = {J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cognit.}, Volume = {9}, Number = {4}, Pages = {636-649}, Year = {1983} }
Refer Export Format

%A Michael McCloskey %A Allyson Washburn %A Linda Felch %T Intuitive physics: The straight-down belief and its origin %J J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cognit. %V 9 %N 4 %D 1983 %P 636-649 %U https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.9.4.636 %O text/html

EndNote Export Format

%0 Journal Article %A McCloskey, Michael %A Washburn, Allyson %A Felch, Linda %D 1983 %T Intuitive physics: The straight-down belief and its origin %J J. Exp. Psychol. Learn. Mem. Cognit. %V 9 %N 4 %P 636-649 %@ 0278-7393 %U https://doi.org/10.1037/0278-7393.9.4.636


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