The Internet was abuzz in February with the color of "The Dress." Some people found the color to be blue and black while to others the dress appeared to be white and gold. However, scientists have now unraveled the color of the dress.
#ThatDress became an Internet sensation when Caitlin McNeill, a Scottish singer, posted a picture of a dress on Tumblr and asked people the color of the dress: white and gold or blue and black.
While there may be three separate studies that have tried to understand why different people have a different opinion about the color of the dress, one expert suggests that the phenomenon of how the human brain perceives a color in daytime is behind the mystery of the color of the dress.
Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist at Wellesley College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who is also a researcher of one of the studies, says that the phenomenon about the color of the dress highlights the greatest differences about the perception of people ever recorded.
Conway explains that, in some optical illusions, people can see two separate shapes in one image. However, in the case of The Dress, different people have totally different opinion about its color.
Conway's experiment involved 1,400 participants, which included more than 300 participants who actually had not seen the image of the controversial dress at all. All the participants were asked to identify the colors of The Dress from a full palette.
The researchers found that some participants found the dress to be blue and black and some found the color to be white and gold. A small number of people also believed that the color of the dress was blue and brown.
Conway explains that the difference in opinion has to do with the human brain's expectation of the light that surrounds The Dress. Participants who believed the dress was white and gold expected the surrounding lights to be from natural lights, which caused their brain to ignore the blue light wavelength.
However, people who think that the dress was blue and black expected the surrounding of the dress to be lit by artificial light, ignoring the red light wavelength. People who perceived the dress as blue and brown were somewhere in the middle.
The study also found that how people perceived the color of the dress also varied based on the sex and age of the participant. Young people found the color to be blue and black. More women and older people saw the dress as white and gold.
Another study that backs Conway's findings adds that the distribution of colors within the dress is also responsible for the difference in opinion between people.
"We speculate that the ambiguity arises in the case of this particular image because the distribution of colors within the dress closely matches the distribution of natural daylights," reported the other study.
Scientists believe that the studies about The Dress are important as they highlight that people observe their surroundings differently. Scientists, however, do not know why.