Published On: 27/10/2014|Categories: 2013–2017, Vol.35 (2014), Vol.35 (3)|

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The research field of intuitive physics focuses on discrepancies between theoretical and intuitive physical knowledge. Consideration of these discrepancies can help in the teaching of elementary physics. However, evidence shows that theoretical and intuitive physical knowledge may also be congruent. Physics teaching could further benefit from understanding the reasons for this congruence. The present study explored these reasons by investigating the intuitive physics of the equilibrium of the lever and of the hydraulic pressures. It was found that the intuitive-physics law of the lever was multiplicative for all participants while the intuitive-physics law of the hydraulic pressures differed among participants. Since these laws are equally simple and the layman probably has had extensive experience with the lever and scarce or no experience with the hydraulic lift, these findings support the general hypothesis that physical laws and corresponding intuitive-physics laws are congruent when people have had experience with the respective phenomena. The results and theoretical considerations suggest two strategic principles for teaching elementary physics.

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