Why Barbie feels heavier than Ken: the influence of size-based expectancies and social cues on the illusory perception of weight.

Cognition

PubMedID: 17599820

Dijker AJ. Why Barbie feels heavier than Ken: the influence of size-based expectancies and social cues on the illusory perception of weight. Cognition. 2008;106(3):1109-25.
In order to examine the relative influence of size-based expectancies and social cues on the perceived weight of objects, two studies were performed, using equally weighing dolls differing in sex-related and age-related vulnerability or physical strength cues. To increase variation in perceived size, stimulus objects were viewed through optical lenses of varying reducing power. Different groups of participants were required to provide magnitude estimates of perceived size, physical strength, or weight, or of expected weight. A size-weight illusion (SWI) was demonstrated, such that smaller objects felt heavier than larger ones, that was entirely accounted for by the mediating role of expected weight. Yet, perceived physical strength exerted an additional and more reactive influence on perceived weight independently of measured expectancies. Results are used to clarify the nature of "embodied", internal sensory-motor representations of physical and social properties.