What was the difference between seeing a black and blue gown and others as gold and white? A team of perception psychologists at the University of Giessen and University of Bradford found that the overall colour of the photo was yellowish-bluish. Professor Dr. Karl Gegenfurtner works in psychology at Justus Liebig University Giessen. He said, “This wouldn’t have happened with red dresses.” The researchers published their latest findings in Current Biology. Citation below. What is the dress’ blue-black and white-gold colour? Prof Marina Bloj, University of Bradford’s Professor, discovered that the subjects perceived the same colour shades. The only difference was in the lightness. From a light and almost-white-blue to a bright, mid-blue to smoky brown to a dark and intensely saturated black, the perceptions of colour varied. The transitions between the two are fluid. Neither individuals who saw the dress as either white or gold, nor those who perceived it to be black and blue, make up a homogenous group. However, the perceived colours of daylight change throughout the day. These colours are part of what is known as the ‘daylight locus. According to where the sun shines during the day, daylight is more blueish at noon and more yellowish in morning and afternoon. Unconsciously, most of us can filter out yellowish and bluish light. This results in the perception of the same colors. To do this, we need reference points. Colours are colours that lie outside of the sunlight locus. The #TheDress, as it was known in social media networks, did not have the red and green features. The image does not give any information about the luminance levels of the scene. Professor Gegenfurtner said that the perceived hue of one group of observers was due to the fact that the white dress was subjected to cool, bluish lighting. It could also be a blue gown that was too exposed to warm light.” We all now know the truth: the dress was blue-black. This is a subject the researchers call’minor. The observers are not conscious of which version they prefer. Multiple studies show that it is difficult for humans to see colours at the daylight locus. For example, test subjects are often unable to perceive a neutral grey without a slight yellowish-bluish tint. Researchers wrote that “Deviations regarding red or green tendencies on either side rarely occur.” This explains why the researchers concluded in an abstract in the journal: “We speculate that the ambiguity in this image arises because of how the colour distribution within the dress matches the distributions of natural daylights. It is therefore more difficult to distinguish between illumination and reflectance changes. Citation: Karl R. Gegenfurtner Marina Bloj Matteo Toscani. Current Biology. Publié May 2015. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2015.04. 043.
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