Original Paper


, Volume 23, Issue 4, pp 633-643

First online:

Launching, Entraining, and Representational Momentum: Evidence Consistent with an Impetus Heuristic in Perception of Causality

  • Timothy L. HubbardAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Texas Christian University Email author 

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Displacements in the remembered location of stimuli in displays based on Michotte’s (1946/1963) launching effect and entraining effect were examined. A moving object contacted an initially stationary target, and the target began moving. After contacting the target, the mover became stationary (launching trials) or continued moving in the same direction and remained adjacent to the target (entraining trials). In launching trials, forward displacement was smaller for targets than for movers; in entraining trials, forward displacement was smaller for movers than for targets. Also, forward displacement was smaller for targets in launching trials than for targets in entraining trials. Data are consistent with a hypothesis that the launching effect involves an attribution that the mover imparted to the target a dissipating impetus that was responsible for target motion. Introspective experience of a perception of physical causality in the launching effect might result because behavior of movers and targets is consistent with that predicted by an impetus heuristic.


Causal perception Launching effect Entraining effect Representational momentum Impetus Heuristics Spatial representation