Why the dress the Internet is frothing over looks white/gold to women and blue/black to men

Everyone is flipping out over a picture of a blue-and-black dress. Just when I thought cat videos were the only thing to freak out about. Some say it’s white and gold, others say it’s blue and black. It seems that the white/gold perception is almost squarely with women and the blue/black perception is largely with men. Why is this? Many people have played with color correction to “prove” their answer is the One True Answer(TM) but the reality is that the dress is actually blue with black accents. Want proof? Here’s the dress in a catalog to show that it is factually blue-and-black:

Is this a dress or a vase?

I know, I know, you’re saying “but I want to know why women see it as white and gold!” It’s simple. Here’s the top portion of the dress image:

It’s gold and white. If you disagree, I’ll tweet bad things about your lawn.

It’s difficult to see ONLY this part and not think that it could be white and gold. The black part clearly has an incandescent spotlight above it somewhere which bounces off the semi-shiny black portion to give the appearance of a gold hue. The extreme backlight in the upper-right corner that is blowing the picture contrast out pretty severely gives the impression that the entire dress coloration is tainted by shadowing caused by the light source behind it; this combined with the gold “hint” from the incandescent light will cause anyone who looks at the top of the image first to mentally and subconsciously “auto-correct” their color perception to compensate. Thus, if you look at the top first, you’re seeing a white dress with gold accents. Let’s take a look around where the center body mass would be instead:

It’s blue. It’s not white. Don’t be such a racist.

If your first glance is closer to the center of the body, you’ll see a lot less of the gold “hinting.” Because the black is generally darker and the overall brightness of this section of the image is lower, the blue looks more blue and less white.

Let’s be honest with ourselves about typical instinctual human behavior here: men look at the body first and move around to get the whole picture; women size up the person they look at from top to bottom. Men see the dark part first, women see the light part first, and that’s why they perceive it differently. If the same visual tricks and erroneous hints were somehow swapped, the perceptions would also be swapped. There is also the fact that men and women perceive color slightly differently anyway, with women being more capable of distinguishing slight changes in color and men being better at detecting motion, contrast, and bigger changes in general; it could be that the superior color perception of women works against them given this atrocious lighting and terrible quality camera.

For reference, this is the full dress photo everyone’s so worked up about. What color is it? What color did you see it as when you scrolled down? If you scroll very slowly down without looking directly at the photo, even if you’ve seen it as blue/black every time before, you’ll probably see it as white/gold and immediately wonder if you’ve been slipped a hallucinogen via the Internet. I know that’s how I felt, anyway.

You are looking directly at the end of human civilization as we know it.
You are looking directly at the end of human civilization as we know it.

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