19 October, 2019
Cast your memory back to 2015 when the year’s biggest debate (almost) centred around whether a dress worn by a wedding guest was white and gold or black and blue. Remember the one?
Well now science is able to offer some insights into why we as a nation (actually make that the world) were divided over this dress.
Neuroscientist Pascal Wallisch, from New York University discovered that people who saw the dress as white and gold probably assumed that it was photographed in a shadow.
Those who viewed the dress as black and blue likely assumed it was illuminated by artificial light. Wallisch went on to explain, “To appreciate the color of an object, people’s brains constantly evaluate how this object is illuminated”.
Wallisch conducted an online survey, gathering people’s demographic information and asking participants when they would normally go to bed and get up. He then asked them what colour they thought the dress was. Over 57% of participants saw the dress as white and gold (in actual fact the dress is black and blue). Those who assumed the dress had been photographed in a shadow were more likely to see it as white and gold.
Wallisch suspected that people’s exposure to artificial light versus natural light had a bearing on what people viewed the dress as.
Night owls, are generally more exposed to artificial light and reported to see the dress as black and blue as they believed it was illuminated by artificial light.
The early birds needless to say, viewed the dress as being white and gold as they perceived the dress to be photographed in a shadow.
This just goes to show, even our vision can be manipulated by our brains!
To see how the dress changes colour visit our friends at Quartz
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