Perception & Psychophysics

, Volume 61, Issue 8, pp 1681–1685 | Cite as

Charpentier (1891) on the size—weight illusion

  • David J. MurrayEmail author
  • Robert R. Ellis
  • Christina A. Bandomir
  • Helen E. Ross
Notes and Comment


This paper offers background for an English translation of an article originally published in 1891 by Augustin Charpentier (1852–1916), as well as a summary of it. The article is frequently described as providing the first experimental evidence for the size—weight illusion. A comparison of experiments on the judged heaviness of lifted weights carried out by Weber (1834) and by Charpentier (1891) supports the view that Charpentiers work deserves priority; review of other experimental studies on the size-weight illusion in the 1890s suggests that the idea that the illusion depended on “disappointed expectations,” especially with respect to speed of lift, became dominant almost immediately following the publication of Charpentiers paper. The fate of this and other ideas, including “motor energy,” in 20th-century research on the illusion is briefly described.


Grip Force Weight Perception Space Error Apparent Weight Weight Illusion 
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Copyright information

© Psychonomic Society, Inc. 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • David J. Murray
    • 1
    Email author
  • Robert R. Ellis
    • 1
  • Christina A. Bandomir
    • 1
  • Helen E. Ross
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyQueen’s UniversityKingstonCanada
  2. 2.University of StirlingStirlingScotland

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