#TheDress — Black and Blue vs. White and Gold

If you’ve been on social media lately, you’ve undoubtedly seen this dress:


What’s the deal?

The dress first appeared on Tumblr with the caption, “guys please help me – is this dress white and gold, or blue and black? Me and my friends can’t agree and we are freaking the f–k out.”

Essentially, some see a black and blue dress, while others see a dress that is white and gold. Some see one combo at one time and later see the other. According to one poll on BuzzFeed, about three-quarters of respondents see white and gold.

Business Insider put the dress to the test on Photoshop, where it could not be susceptible to variations in genetics or eye strength.

Here is what they found:

Photoshop The Dress

Basically, one of the colors falls on the black/gold border and the other falls on the blue/white border.

The Science Behind the Dress: It has to do with the way human eyes have evolved to see color. Wired explains:

“Light enters the eye through the lens—different wavelengths corresponding to different colors . . . Without you having to worry about it, your brain figures out what color light is bouncing off the thing your eyes are looking at, and essentially subtracts that color from the “real” color of the object.”

While the system usually works just fine, this image hits some sort of perceptual border.

“What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis,” says Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College. “So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.”

So when context varies, so will the visual perception. On a white background, most people will see blue, but on a black background, some might see white. 

One thing is for sure: it can drive a person crazy! Indeed, many were perplexed by the dress, which sparked a viral color debate and  storm of tweets:

The 21-year-old singer, Caitlin McNeill who originally posted the photo told Business Insider, “I thought my followers on Tumblr would maybe have a good reaction, but I never would have considered that Taylor Swift and Mindy Kaling would be tweeting about it.”

Brands got a piece of the dress, too:

What colors do you see?

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