Black/blue or white/gold? Dress debate goes viral

Some users see the dress as being white and gold while others see black and blue

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Friday saw a seemingly innocuous image of a dress go viral as social media users and celebrities battled it out over what color the frock really is. Some users see white and gold while others see black and blue and neuroscientists say the difference is related to how our brains interpret the light coming into our eyes.

The photo of the dress, lined with horizontal lace strips, was first posted on social media site Reddit and quickly went viral across all platforms.

Cedar Riener, associate professor of psychology at Randolph-Macon College in the U.S., spoke to BuzzFeed and said luminance plays a role in how we decide what color the dress is.

Luminance is “how much light is shining onto an object and how much it reflects off of the object’s surface,” BuzzFeed surmised.

“In the case of the dress, some people are deciding that there is a fair amount of illumination on a blue and black (or less reflective) dress. Other people are deciding that it is less illumination on a white/gold dress (it is in shadow, but more reflective),” Riener said.

However, Riener added that scientists still do not know much about person-to-person differences in perception.

“The individual differences tend not to receive as much attention from perceptual researchers, since we focus on how eyes work in general,” he said. “And in general, our eyes work very similarly, since we all live in an environment where the color of the light is generally the same shade of blue.”

As the photo of the offending dress caught on like wildfire, social media users laughingly commented that the debate was “tearing families apart.”

Meanwhile, celebrities made sure their opinions were heard.