If you’ve been very active on social media lately, you’ll be very familiar with a blue and black dress #TheDress that quickly went viral after several people could not come to an agreement on its color. Some saw the dress as “blue and black” while others saw “white and gold”. The debate over the color of the dress got so heated up that several celebrities including Kim Kardashian, Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Demi Lovato, Jimmy Fallon, Jaden Smith, Cher, Anna Kendrick, Julianne Moore & Zendaya had to weigh in on this discussion as well. Click here if you missed it!
A color vision expert and psychology professor at the University of Pennsylvania, David Maynard, Ph.D., told CBS News: “Color science has captured the imagination of the universe.” According to Maynard , the easy explanation called the “uninteresting fact” is that colors can really be rendered quite differently on different screens. This implies that if you are looking at the picture on your phone or on your computer or on your extra monitor, the color you see can completely be different because the resolution and the color calibration can create huge visual differences. The lightning in the room may also impact the way the eyes perceive the image.
Sarah Allred, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University, also saw potential problems with the way the picture was presented: “I find it interesting that my usually-considered-boring research area is getting some attention,” she also told CBS News.
“It is very easy (especially in photographs) to change the perceived color of an object by changing the illumination. This is because the color of the light entering your eye from an object mixes up the color of the illumination and the color of the object,” she wrote in a blog post Friday. “Is the blue light reaching your eye a white dress under a blue light or a blue dress under a white light? Your brain has lots of tricks for ‘unmixing,’ so such illusions rarely occur in real life. But much real-world information is lost in photographs, and this can sometimes cause illusions…”