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Blue and Black or White and Gold? Here's Why the Viral Dress Appears Different Colours

People who saw the outfit as blue and black tended to see in those colours only.

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Updated:September 28, 2019, 11:20 AM IST
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Blue and Black or White and Gold? Here's Why the Viral Dress Appears Different Colours
Image credits: Wikimedia commons.

Remember the blue or black and white and gold dress that went viral in 2015 leaving many onlookers online baffled?

Well, here's why -- turns out different people see the colours differently.

A popular hypothesis for why people saw the image differently was probably because of colour constancy, a perceptual phenomenon by which an object appears to stay more or less the same colour, regardless of lighting conditions under which a person sees it.

It is an incredible feature of human vision, which has already been used by researchers since long in the form of visual illusion.

Another image that has baffled people was created by Japanese psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka which shows berries on a tart. And though the berries look red, they are not because according to the psychologist, there are no red pixels in that image.

As with the dress, color constancy plays a role in this image as well, but unlike the dress, nearly everyone perceives the berries as red, sans ambiguity or varying philosophical opinions.

The dress illusion was similar. People who saw the outfit as blue and black tended to see in those colours only. However, every once in a while, without warning, the colors a person perceived might switch, triggering still more existential spasms and additional scientific intrigue.

According to Koos Looijesteijn's blog, there are basically three reasons why people looking at one thing can see something differently. It could be because cone sensitivity differs between people. Notably, cones are cells in the retina that sense light in one of three color ranges with them sometimes overlapping with peak sensitivity, which causes color blindness.

Furthermore, even an individual can perceive one color differently depending on the context.

Finally, cultural processing also defines what colours one is able to see. For example, in Homer's Greece they did not have a word for blue, since the colour itself was a late entrance in people's perception. Instead, according to the article, he described the sea as wine-coloured.

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