The Dress: Now with Peer-Reviewed Science!

The Dress: Now with Peer-Reviewed Science!

Remember that picture of a dress that broke
the Internet two years ago? The one that had your entire Twitter feed
arguing if it was white and gold or black and blue? We talked about the dress back then, but good
news: there’s been some peer-reviewed research about it! Because even scientists can’t resist a good
viral picture. Over the last two years, studies have tried
to determine if things like gender or genetics play a role in what color dress you see — but
a recent paper suggests it might have to do with your sleeping habits. Researchers from New York University surveyed
more than 13,000 people about their perception of the picture, their lifestyle, and demographics,
and the results were published last week in the Journal of Vision. Their analysis found that whether you think
the dress is in shadow or light seems to matter the most when it comes to what colors you
see. People who thought the dress was in shadow
were between 20 and 40 percent more likely to think it was white and gold than those
who thought it was well-lit. That’s because of how your brain deals with
color constancy, which is how scientists have explained the dress since day one: As the lighting around an object changes,
whether it’s because of a setting sun or an artificial colored light, your brain makes
adjustments to keep it looking the same color. Otherwise, we’d be freaking out about a
weird, color-changing universe. Now, since shadows are mostly blue, if you
think the dress is in shadow, your brain might take some of the blue light out of the image. This makes the dress look white and gold. On the other hand, artificial lights are more
yellow, so your brain might have to subtract that color to make the dress look black and
blue. Those results aren’t that surprising, since
we’ve known how brains deal with color for years. But what was surprising is that your lifestyle
might affect how you perceive the dress. The researchers hypothesized that your perception
of colors could be tied to whether you’re an early riser or a night owl. They figured people who get up early spend
more time exposed to blue skies and natural sunlight, while those who love burning that
midnight oil see more yellow, artificial light. So the night owls might be more likely to
assume the dress is lit by artificial light, so their brains adjust for yellowish light,
and see black and blue — and the opposite for morning people. And the statistics seemed to support those
ideas! This suggests that something as simple as
what lights you’re used to could actually affect how you perceive colors. Now, it’s still not a perfect hypothesis,
and seems to only come into play when ambiguous lighting is involved. More research will have to be done before
we can say anything for sure. So if anyone else has weirdly lit dress photos
they want to share, feel free to come forward! In other news that’s changing our perceptions
on a much larger scale, we’ve identified a new ancestor to the dinosaurs! As published this week in the journal Nature,
paleontologists described a new reptile fossil found in Tanzania in 2015, which challenges
how we think dinosaurs evolved. Around 250 million years ago, during the Triassic
period, a class of reptiles called archosaurs split into two main groups. One group went on to become modern-day crocodiles,
and the other, sometimes called the bird branch, became dinosaurs and eventually birds. Many paleontologists thought that the bird
branch started with chicken-sized, two-legged reptiles, but they didn’t have the fossils
to back that up. And turns out, their hypothesis was probably
wrong! They called this newly described reptile Teleocrater
rhadinus. And, based on its features and where it was
discovered in the rock layers, it’s believed to be one of the oldest members of the bird
branch. But instead of being a small biped, it was
2 to 3 meters long and walked on four legs! It also shared features with dinosaurs and
crocodiles — like similar skull features as dinosaurs and the same kind of ankle joint
as crocodiles. This species links together other groups of
reptiles we hadn’t fully understood before, and paleontologists put them into their own,
new group at the base of the bird branch, called Aphanosauria! Another paleontologist actually discovered
Teleocrater fossils back in the 1930s, but there weren’t enough bones to place it on
the family tree. But this new discovery had enough clues to
figure it out, like those ankle joints. This finding is also cool because we used
to think some of Teleocrater’s features, like the distinctive skull shapes, evolved
much later in dinosaurs. So scientists will have to reevaluate how
we think about dinosaur evolution. This research team will head back to Tanzania
next month to hopefully dig up more information. But even now, it looks like early reptiles
were more diverse than we gave them credit for. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
News. We’ve been nominated for a Webby award in
the Science and Education category, which is super cool! Voting goes up until April 20th and we’ve
put a link in the description where you can vote for us! We’d really appreciate it if you take a second
to head over there and vote! And if you want to keep getting smarter with
us, you can go to and subscribe.

100 Replies to “The Dress: Now with Peer-Reviewed Science!”

  1. Sorry Scishow. I did not vote for you as it's the 21st now and I've been gaming and drumming.. and drinking. But, I would have voted for you thumbs up

  2. who could ever tell what color it is with it being such a low quality grainy piece of crap? i dont understand where the controversy comes from.

  3. Wouldnt it be a bad study because it had way too many variables so you are bound to find one positive results. Similar to the chocolate helping you loose weight study….
    Sci show should really at least mention this.

  4. im an early riser and i see the dress as blue and black, and my sister (a night owl) sees it as white and gold…

  5. I'm a night owl and I only ever saw the color scheme in the middle of the three. the pale blue and Gray goldish one.

  6. Oh, this might be why florists and flower providers get angry with each other over colours. Flower providers work early in the morning, and florists often work late and get really angry for getting flowers that we don't think match what they are asking for.

  7. every smart people see that its blue and black but manipulated light on it that makes the colours dull… im a night owl

  8. Ok, my hypothesis on this dress is that people who still don't realise it's black and blue have never learned colour & light theory or failed to from art class or just daily observation.
    Also, some others and some of the same people are oblivious to photo filters, because they see the colours as they actually are in the picture rather than seeing through the photo filter trickery.

  9. So did this peer-reviewed science survey a bunch of people who looked at the image on the computers and devices that the viewers owned and the scientists had no control over, or did they look at the image on devices that the researchers controlled? If it's not the latter, I see no value in the research. In my experience, most people who are not involved in pre-press graphics have their monitor settings set very inaccurately. Only people who actually have to have colours correct on their monitors as part of their job generally have remotely correct settings – not too vivid, the contrast not set too high, the temperature not set wonky.

  10. A better point, if you are chasing a particular animal in a herd, you need to keep after the same one. color constancy. Same if you are being chased by a pack of wolves.

  11. Honestly, I still don't believe the dress is "really blue and black". The only supposed evidence of this is all text or word based — people claiming what the real color is, so just trust them on it. Or a completely different picture that could easily be unrelated to the first. Maybe if there was a video showing it going from the apparently super over-exposed lighting (that turns black into yellow and medium tan) into softer lighting and then shadow… well then maybe the "illusion" would break.

    Now for the record, I do prefer natural light — and that's why I've removed every single yellow/amber lightbulb (called "Soft White") and replaced them with "daylight" hued bulbs. Therefore I'm sure my reflexive internal "white balance" is calibrated to natural light. But I feel that people who truly believe the yellow/tan hues to in fact be black must live in caves with nothing but candles and bonfires for light sources. Or maybe they use only those yellow "bug-repellent" bulbs and so they're completely used to seeing a washed-out yellow filter over everything. I mean, I know my boss likes his bulbs to be that sickly yellow color and has on occasion mistaken white paper for blue when lit by sunlight or the whiter lights in the area where I work.

  12. In something completely unrelated, I find Olivia hot, but she seems too anxious and doesn't know what to do with her hands.

  13. The dress ACTUALLY IS black and blue, by the way. It's in artificial light and the black is all washed out and looks brownish, and if you brain-correct that the wrong way it looks kind of goldish I guess.

  14. What if I literally saw the dress change from white and gold to blue and black? Like I thought it was a gif because it changed colors before my eyes but it was only a picture?

  15. I don't get how the freak people seeing White and Gold while it's clearly Blue and Black?! all of my family member and most of my cousin sees it Blue and Black and only 2 cousins see Gold and White… I'm still trying to find out how the freak they see it that way (Gold and White).

  16. When I first saw the dress it was white and gold. The next time I looked it was black and blue. And I have never seen it white and gold again. Makes me crazy!

  17. What does it mean when it changes colors on you! I started this video and it was white and gold, then I started the video over and its black and blue now! wtf?

  18. The picture that makes people see white and gold is actually just very over saturated. My mom is a photographer, and I wanted to follow in her footsteps when I was a kid. But I was terrible at it at first, so I saw a lot of over saturated pictures. They do make it questionable what the colors are supposed to be, if you don't have context. But if you look at the picture of the dress that's clearly blue and black(and for anyone that says that photo was artificially re-colored and shopped, I'll keep that in mind too.) it makes it easier to see the perceived white and gold dress as black and blue, but very saturated. But if the people who think the clearly black and blue image was re-colored are correct, then that is a whole other situation, since that would mean the context of the original image before over saturation is missing.

    All that said, I don't think a predilection for night or day have anything to do with this, but it's an interesting study!

  19. I see a dark gold and blue, I assume I am alone, I cannot see black in it, but I can see how some people see white

  20. their first video on this claimed it was white and gold but the dress is actually blue and black

  21. "The statistics seem to back up their hypothesis." Would it really have been that hard to throw some numbers on the screen or mention what the strength of the correlation was?

  22. I don't know what everyone was talking about when they said white and gold or blue and black. I saw and still see blue and gold.

  23. haha u guys and your bullshit macro evolution. there should be millions and millions of transitional fossils! there's none though…

  24. Morning/night but they didn't ask about party after dark/camera in their lifestyle? I'm guessing if you take a lot of pictures esp at night you'd get back to the black pretty easy. My brain's interpretation stops at the screen. The picture came out dirty blue and dirty brown/gold. I can't appreciate it as a blue and black dress because the photo is rubbish.

  25. Despite what people think they see, the original designers of the dress said it is actually blue and black. They only created one white and gold dress to be sold at a charity auction and only after the photo became viral.

  26. "god dammit" science. .. I still see it now a pale blue with a brownish color as the first time I've seen it… so what I'm the X- percent freak now?

  27. I am an early morning person and I see black and blue. My mother is a night owl and she sees white and gold??

  28. I see both sets of color combinations; time of day and device used to view doesn't seem to impact/predict which set I perceive. There's been times where I "see" a shift in color, right before my eyes; if I didn't know any better I'd call it magic. I do experience bouts of worse sleep and wonder if my poor sleep influences the varying color detection.

  29. House lights have changed and are more blueish, or call it daylight balanced.
    Because I am so not an early riser, and still said it looked white and gold and was in shade.

  30. I'm a night owl, can confirm. Actually, the correlation may well be coincidental. Was any research done on differences in screen types, brightness and gamma and contrast settings, or light environment at the specific time of seeing the picture? That was my theory, and having seen it as both, I like mine.

  31. This whole thing started because of filters changing the color of the dress. The dress is blue and black. The yellow light of the store made the black look more golden and the blue lighter. With different filters you could emphasize the stores light to make the dress more white and gold.

    Also people showed be asked not what they see but what they think the dress is. I see more gold on top of the dress but that doesn't mean the dress isn't black and blue.

  32. I can see it both ways.
    My friends and I tested and two of us can see both ways just by changing the type of light around us. Literally changing whether we were under artificial light or sunlight changed how we saw it.

  33. No, no, no, I say na na. I stay up to midnight on school nights, and at least 2:00 am on weekends and I see white and gold. I don’t think your’re right.

  34. 105 years before this video was made – A ship hit an iceberg in the Atlantic ocean. It took on water and sank 2 hours and 40 minutes later, killing 1517 people. This ship was called… "Titanic."

  35. I see whats actually there in the dress pic – that is the colours you get when you just take a pixel sample: Dingy light blue and light shitty brown. So to me, I can't understand why the hell anyone would take a photo of such a fugly old rag and stick it on the net anyway. Also, am a night owl.

  36. Wow. I'm a total night owl (am literally watching this at midnight on a school night) and only ever have seen blue and black

  37. Are you looking at the colors directly in front of you? Or are you guessing at what the dress may look like in different lighting? That seems to be the difference

    Most people on the Internet that I see in comments will tell you that the dress is blue and gold. Which is exactly what I have always seen. Now I understand. We are looking at the photo itself. We are looking at what colors are presented in this image

    Yet other people are making assumptions about the lighting, and making a guess as to what the dress looks like in a different situation. Those people will see either white or black. When I never see either

    So are you looking at what is directly in front of you? Or do you make assumptions?

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