Intuitive Mechanics: Inferences of Vertical Projectile Motion

Milana Damjenić, Strahinja Dimitrijević


Our intuitive knowledge of physics mechanics, i.e. knowledge defined through personal experience about velocity, acceleration, motion causes, etc., is often wrong. This research examined whether similar misconceptions occur systematically in the case of vertical projectiles launched upwards. The first experiment examined inferences of velocity and acceleration of the ball moving vertically upwards, while the second experiment examined whether the mass of the thrown ball and force of the throw have an impact on the inference. The results showed that more than three quarters of the participants wrongly assumed that maximum velocity and peak acceleration did not occur at the initial launch of the projectile. There was no effect of object mass or effect of the force of the throw on the inference relating to the velocity and acceleration of the ball. The results exceed the explanatory reach of the impetus theory, most commonly used to explain the naive understanding of the mechanics of object motion. This research supports that the actions on objects approach and the property transmission heuristics may more aptly explain the dissidence between perceived and actual implications in projectile motion.


vertical projectile motion; impetus theory; actions on objects approach; property transmission heuristics


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