The Science Behind The Dress!

I’m sure most of you have came across “the dress” on one of the social media sites by now, but I needed to share it again as it is so mind boggling for me.

I came across the dress this morning after one of my friends had shared it on Facebook. All morning I have seen the dress as white and gold, and when I just went to look at it again it appeared to me as black and blue! That’s what really pushed me into doing my own blog post and digging regarding this. 

Here is the dress:


What colours do you see? Black and blue, or gold and white?

It has been stated that different people see  this dress as different colors because of the way our eyes perceive colours in dim lighting.

Your eyes have retinas, which let you interpret colour. There’s rods, and cones that stick out, which is what gives your eye a textured appearance in the coloured part. The cones see colour, and the rods see shades, like black, white and grey. Cones only work when enough light passes through. So while I see the fabric of this dress as white, many of you are seeing blue. This is because my cones are not responding to the dim lighting. There are three cones, small, medium and large. They are blue sensitive, green sensitive, and red sensitive.
As for the black, which some of us see as gold, it’s called additive mixing. Blue, green and red are the main colours for additive mixing. This is where it gets really tricky. Subtractive mixing, such as with paint, means the more colours you add the murkier it gets until it becomes black. Additive mixing, is when you add the three colours that the eyes see best (red, green and blue) it makes pure white.

In conclusion:

Blue and Black: Your retina’s cones are more high functioning, which results in your eyes doing subtractive mixing.

White and Gold: Your eyes don’t work well in dim light so our retinas rods see white, and this makes them less light sensitive, causing additive mixing.

This theory seemed extremely believable to me… until further research of course. As I continued looking into the dress that has torn the internet into two separate sides, I came across this theory;

The Science Behind the Dress According to ASAP Science:

ASAP Science claims that this is a phenomenon known as “colour constancy”. They state that this ability ensures that the perceived colour of an object remains constant, despite changes in the illumination conditions. That means the context, or surroundings, in which an object we are looking at appears in, influences our perception of its colour.

In the case of this dress, it is photographed so close up that we don’t actually get a glimpse of the environment that is surrounding it , so our brain starts to make interpretations about the light falling on it. If people envisage that it’s located in, say, a room lit by blueish natural daylight, perhaps near a window, they may see it as white and gold because our brain tries to remove the blue as a possible shadow. Alternatively, some may picture it under artificial lights, like those found in shops, and so they see it as blue, which is indeed the true color of the dress.

Still, it’s not entirely clear what it is about the colours of this dress that have caused such a drastic debate. 

For more insight from ASAP Science, watch this video: 

Share with me what colours you see it as, and what you believe is the theory behind the dress.

Just Jessie, xo

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