The psychology of why no one agrees on the color of this dress

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Is the dress white & gold or black & blue?

Remember the old rabbit or duck optical illusion?
It was about an image that could either be seen as a duck or rabbit. The image above seemed to have caused much more confusion than the old Duck or rabbit trick because people actually never managed to agree on anything and instead each party insisted that they were right.

First of all you need to know that the actual color of the dress is blue and black and that the reason people saw it differently was because of the additional processing that happens inside the brain.

In many of my previous articles i explained how we don't see things directly but instead we see them after our brains does some processing to them. If for example you have dog phobia then there is a great possibility that you might think that a plastic bag is a dog only to realize moments later that it's just a bag.

Because your brain was concerned about dogs it did some processing to the image you saw in order to prepare you for the worst. In my article Why you shouldn't trust your eyes anymore i explained how you can actually miss a clear object that lies in front of you just because you were too focused on something else.

What happened with that dress?

We see colors as the result of the reflection of the different wavelengths coming from the different objects. However just like any other image our brains must do some processing to those colors to ensure that we are seeing them correctly.

One important task the brain does during this processing is eliminating the effect of illumination. If for example the illumination made an object seem like it had a different color than its original one then the brain quickly accounts for that in order to make you perceive colors correctly. (see also How can your brain deceive you)

Now because it was so hard for the brain to recognize the wavelengths of the illumination in that picture people split into two major groups. In other words, had that dress been seen in real life and not in the picture that confusion wouldn't have happened.

What does this mean?

There are some extremely important facts about your brain that you should have concluded from that event, here they are:

  • 1) Your self confidence might be low because of your brain: Remember the last time someone looked down on you? Remember the last time you thought that someone disliked you? Remember that sarcastic facial expression you saw? It might actually be in your head! If you aren't so sure of yourself then your brain will process inputs to make it seem like people dislike you and make fun of you. (see How your beliefs and concerns affect your perception)
  • 2) You are collecting wrong data about the world: If you believe that men are not kind or that women are crazy then you will keep collecting false evidence that supports your believes. This won't happen because you will come across real evidence but it will happen because your brain will process information in such a way that makes you think that you are right (see also How your beliefs create your reality)
  • 3) You will become what you believe: In the Solid Self confidence program i said that If you believed that you are not smart then your brain will discard all evidence that shows that you are smart and keep the ones that prove that you are dumb
  • 4) You might see yourself ugly when you are not: If you think that your ears are big then your brain will help you more by making them seem bigger when it processes the image. By doing so your brain will think that it's helping you become aware of your problem in order to solve it. There is only one problem with that approach, the problem doesn't exist! (See Are you too focused on your appearance?)

2knowmyself is not a complicated medical website nor a boring online encyclopedia but rather a place where you will find simple, to the point and effective information that is backed by psychology and presented in a simple way that you can understand and apply. If you think that this is some kind of marketing hype then see what other visitors say about 2knowmyself.

The Solid confidence program was launched by; the program will either help you become more confident or give you your money back.

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