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Rosa Lafer-Sousa, Bevil R. Conway; #TheDress: Categorical perception of an ambiguous color image. Journal of Vision 2017;17(12):25. doi: 10.1167/17.12.25.
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© ARVO (1962-2015); The Authors (2016-present)
We present a full analysis of data from our preliminary report (Lafer-Sousa, Hermann, & Conway, 2015) and test whether #TheDress image is multistable. A multistable image must give rise to more than one mutually exclusive percept, typically within single individuals. Clustering algorithms of color-matching data showed that the dress was seen categorically, as white/gold (W/G) or blue/black (B/K), with a blue/brown transition state. Multinomial regression predicted categorical labels. Consistent with our prior hypothesis, W/G observers inferred a cool illuminant, whereas B/K observers inferred a warm illuminant; moreover, subjects could use skin color alone to infer the illuminant. The data provide some, albeit weak, support for our hypothesis that day larks see the dress as W/G and night owls see it as B/K. About half of observers who were previously familiar with the image reported switching categories at least once. Switching probability increased with professional art experience. Priming with an image that disambiguated the dress as B/K biased reports toward B/K (priming with W/G had negligible impact); furthermore, knowledge of the dress's true colors and any prior exposure to the image shifted the population toward B/K. These results show that some people have switched their perception of the dress. Finally, consistent with a role of attention and local image statistics in determining how multistable images are seen, we found that observers tended to discount as achromatic the dress component that they did not attend to: B/K reporters focused on a blue region, whereas W/G reporters focused on a golden region.
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