What #TheDress Color You See Says About You — According To Science

By now you’ve heard about #TheDress.


You’ve gotten into heated debates about its shading with coworkers, lovers, and maybe even your kids — old and young. You’ve threatened to disown people, fire people, kiss people — all over the color of a dress.


Do you see the dress as white and gold? Or blue and black? Or are you an outlier, seeing blue and gold? And, did the color combo freakishly change for you midway through your passionate debate, as it did for many Yahoo commenters (and also for myself)?


We know for a fact that the dress is blue and black. But still: There’s one key question that has not yet been answered:



What Does Your Color “Team” Say About You?


Does Team Black and Blue, which includes Taylor Swift, Kanye West, Mindy Kaling, and Justin Bieber, have a finer perception of color? Is Team White and Gold, which includes Kim Kardashian and Julianne Moore, more sensitive? Does the team you’re on say something subtle, or not-so, about your biology?


We’ve spoken to experts and combed through the Internet analyses to discover what it could mean if you see white and gold, or black and blue. Or both. Buckle up.



If #TheDress Looks Blue And Black To You…


It IS actually blue and black, so good job.


1. You’re a rare bird.
According to a Buzzfeed survey of nearly 3 million people, only 30 percent see blue and black. The other 70 percent see white and gold.


2. Your retina is interpreting the photo as overexposed.
If you think the dress is being washed out by bright light, your brain may perceive the dress as a darker blue and black. “You’re probably seeing the photo as overexposed, meaning there is too much light, so the colors in the dress appear darker to you after the retina has compensated,” says Reena Garg, a doctor at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai.


3. You could have active cones (in your eyes).
Cones help us see in the daytime and are color-sensitive, specifically to red, green, and blue. In normal lighting conditions, it is the activation of a combination of these cones that allows you to see a wide range of different colors. Since you see the dress as being washed out by bright light, your cones are in full effect.


4. Your brain knows to compensate for lighting tricks.
You may be a visual person or in an artistically driven field, and you’re used to the types of illusions that lighting can play. Since your brain is familiar with it, you didn’t fall for this optical trick.


5. You may be in the fashion field.
There’s a phenomenon called “priming” that can make your brain immune to the dress’s wily ways. “It could also be that you’ve seen dresses (or fabric) with the same texture or shape before, which could also affect your perception,” John Borghi, a cognitive neuroscientist at Rockefeller University, told BuzzFeed News.


6. You may be red-green color deficient.
Yahoo Tech’s David Pogue raised an interesting theory: ”I think it’s really just a sensitive test of red-green color deficiency, which is pretty common,” Dr. Stephen McLeod, chairman of UCSF’s ophthalmology department told Pogue. “I’ll bet most of the people calling it black are men. It’s consistent with cone deficiency, and red-green would do it for this hue.” But while it’s an interesting hypothesis, don’t take this as a diagnosis.


If #TheDress Looks White And Gold To You…


1. You’re in the majority.
According to the same Buzzfeed survey, a whopping 70 percent see white and gold. Power to the people.


2. Your retina is interpreting the photo as underexposed.
If you see the background as dark, your brain may remove the blue cast and perceive the dress as being white and gold. “You’re probably seeing the photo as underexposed, meaning there is too little light and the colors in the dress appear lighter to you after the retina has compensated,” Garg says.


3. You could have active rods (in your eyes).
Rods help us see in the night, and are sensitive to black and white shades. They’re most active in dim lighting conditions, so they’ve snapped into formation here, since you see the dress as set against a dim background.


4. You may be better at perceiving color.
“Some cultures have many more ways of describing color than we do,” Lisa Lystad, a neuro-opthalmologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute, tells Yahoo Health. “It’s sort of like if you go to the Arctic circle and talk about snow. They have tons of different kinds of ‘snow,’” she says. By being able to see variation in this image, you may be able to see beyond what’s obvious.



If You See Other Color Combos Other Than Blue/Black Or White/Gold…


1. You’re a serious mystery.
According to a Yahoo Tech survey, only 6 percent of us see something other than blue/black or white/gold.
If #TheDress Changed Colors For You…


2. Your brain is game to change.
This means that something made your perception of the image adjust. It could be that you viewed the image in a different light, or saw it next to a color that made you read the colors or ambient light differently. Good job.

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