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Your Hands Are Probably About Twice as Heavy as You Think They Are

By: April Carson

Have you ever stopped to wonder just how heavy your hands are? It turns out that the answer might surprise you. Recent experiments in the field of neuroscience and psychology have revealed a fascinating perceptual quirk: people consistently underestimate the weight of their own hands.

This curious phenomenon has implications that reach beyond mere curiosity, potentially impacting fields like prosthetics design. Join me as we delve into the science behind this discovery and explore its implications.

The Weight Perception Paradox

As I pondered the intricacies of human perception, I stumbled upon a remarkable study that delves into the weight of human hands. Imagine this: if you were asked to pick up an object of a certain weight, you would likely have a general sense of its heft based on prior experiences. However, if you were to pick up your own hand and estimate its weight, chances are you'd get it wrong – by a significant margin.

Research published in the journal *Psychological Science* by Linkenauger et al. (2015) highlighted this very paradox. Participants in the study were asked to lift their own hand and estimate its weight by holding a weight in their other hand.

Astonishingly, the participants consistently underestimated the weight of their own hand, often by as much as 20-25%. This led researchers to conclude that our brains use a different mechanism to estimate the weight of our own body parts compared to external objects.

The Brain's Sensory Calibration

This perceptual quirk might seem like a trivial matter, but it has far-reaching implications for understanding how our brain calibrates sensory information. Dr. Dennis Proffitt, one of the authors of the study, explains that our brain's calibration of weight perception is influenced by multiple factors, including the brain's prediction of how easy or difficult a task might be.

When picking up an external object, our brain relies on visual cues and prior experiences to make a relatively accurate estimate of weight. However, when it comes to our own body parts, the brain seems to be biased towards underestimation.

Prosthetics and Beyond

The discovery of this underestimation of hand weight might seem like an intriguing quirk, but its implications could extend into the realm of prosthetics and sensory augmentation. When designing prosthetic limbs, it's crucial to replicate the sensation of weight and balance to ensure a natural and intuitive experience for the user. Understanding how our brain perceives the weight of our own body parts can guide engineers and designers in creating prosthetics that feel more like a seamless extension of the body.

By studying the mechanisms responsible for this underestimation, researchers can potentially improve the feedback mechanisms in prosthetics. This could lead to enhanced sensory experiences for prosthetic users, making it easier for them to interact with objects and navigate their environment confidently.

The Intricacies of Perception

The revelation that we underestimate the weight of our own hands serves as a compelling reminder of how intricate and complex human perception truly is. Our brains are constantly working behind the scenes, processing a myriad of sensory inputs to create our perception of reality. The fact that our brain employs different strategies to estimate the weight of our own body parts versus external objects showcases the remarkable adaptability of our minds.

As I reflect on this intriguing perceptual phenomenon, I'm reminded of the awe-inspiring complexity of the human brain. Our tendency to underestimate the weight of our own hands might seem like a small piece of the puzzle, but it carries implications that ripple across fields like neuroscience, psychology, and even prosthetics design. From the way our brain calibrates sensory information to the potential improvements in prosthetic technology, this discovery underscores the importance of scientific inquiry in unraveling the mysteries of human perception.

So, the next time you hold your hand in front of you, take a moment to appreciate the intricate interplay between your brain and your senses. Your perception of weight is just one of the countless marvels that make up the tapestry of human experience.


Linkenauger, S. A., Witt, J. K., & Proffitt, D. R. (2015). Taking a Hands-On Approach: Apparent Grasping Ability Scales the Perception of Object Weight. *Psychological Science, 26*(7), 1007–1015. doi:10.1177/0956797615577594

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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on

To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav


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