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Anya Hurlbert, Stacey Aston, Bradley Pearce; Is that really #thedress? Individual variations in colour constancy for real illuminations and objects. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):743. doi: 10.1167/16.12.743.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
One popular explanation for the individual variation in reported colours of #thedress is an individual variation in the underlying colour constancy mechanisms, which cause differences in the illumination estimated and subsequently discounted. Those who see the dress as white/gold are discounting a blueish illumination, while those who see it as blue/black are discounting a yellowish illumination. These underlying differences are brought into relief by the ambiguity of the original photograph. If this explanation holds, then similarly striking individual differences in colour constancy might also be visible in colour matching and naming tasks using real objects under real illuminations, and the conditions under which they are elicited may help to explain the particular power of #thedress. I will discuss results of colour constancy measurements using the real dress, which is almost universally reported to be blue/black when illuminated by neutral, broad-band light, yet elicits similar variability in colour naming to the original photograph, across observers within certain illumination conditions, most pronouncedly for ambiguous and/or atypical illuminations. Colour constancy by both naming and matching is in fact relatively poor for the real dress and other unfamiliar items of clothing, but better for blueish illuminations than other chromatic illuminations or ambiguous multiple-source illuminations. Overall, individual variations in colour constancy are significant, and depend on age and other individual factors.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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