Unless you’ve been living under a rock, its likely that you and your friends or your loved ones have fought over #TheDress.

A picture of the controversial item of clothing, which was first shared on Tumblr by a 21-year-old singer named Caitlin McNeill, sparked a new war. Why? Some people thought it was white and gold others saw Blue and black. The real colour of the dress was of course blue and black.

Now it seems Facebook has compiled data on the dress to give us a sense of who saw what. Facebook’s data is limited in the sense that its based only on results posted by US-based users, but it’s quite an interesting read.

According to Facebook’s Data Science page, a whopping 42 percent of Facebook users who got embroiled in the debate, were on team Black and Blue, while 58 percent were on team White and Gold.

Gender difference was a big factor in deciding the colour teams. The Facebook Data Science page points out that they found a gender split when it came to the results: men were more likely to vote black and blue by 6 percentage points.

Gender difference when it came to black and blue.
Gender difference when it came to black and blue.

Also the younger a person was, the more likely they were to believe the dress was black and blue. Facebook says that all other things being equal, a whopping 10 percent more of 13-17 year old users were on team Black and Blue, compared to 55-64 year old users.

Age wise percentage differences for dress colours.
Age wise percentage differences for dress colours.

Facebook even looked at the interface that people were using to determine if that was the reason why people were so divided. According to the social network, relative to people posting from a computer, 6 percent more iPhone users said that the dress was white and gold, while this number was 7 percent for Android users. Of course the problem with this, is that with Android and iPhones there were various devices and the screen settings, screen resolution which need to be taken into account, so this one needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

Based on devices used.
Based on devices used.

Finally Facebook also looked at the time of the day when people made posts about the day. According to Facebook’s post, once the Internet knew that the dress was black and blue, “people gradually started shifting their opinion to black and blue (or perhaps the black-and-blue side felt more emboldened)”. By midnight Eastern time, the fraction of people voting black and blue had risen by 4 percent, says post.

Facebook Dress colour based on Time.
Facebook Dress colour based on Time.

Facebook says they anonymised and aggregated posts from people in the United States last night which mentioned either “black” and “blue”, or “white” and “gold”, but not both.

So what was the reason for the illusion? Earlier Wired spoke to neuroscientists to explain why people were seeing two different colours. A possible reason for the colour difference was daylight and its changing colour tones.

Bevil Conway, a neuroscientist who studies color and vision at Wellesley College told Wired, “What’s happening here is your visual system is looking at this thing, and you’re trying to discount the chromatic bias of the daylight axis… So people either discount the blue side, in which case they end up seeing white and gold, or discount the gold side, in which case they end up with blue and black.”

Another report on The Guardian also sticks with Colour illusion theory. The piece notes that, “Colour illusions are images where the object’s surrounding colours trick the eye into incorrectly interpreting the colour.” Again while human eyes have evolved to see in daylight since daylight changes colour the “human eyes try to compensate for the chromatic bias of daylight colour.”

While Facebook’s data is restricted given that it’s based on just US results, there’s no denying that #theDress has been one of the most interesting phenomenas to hit the Internet.

Publish date: March 5, 2015 6:04 pm| Modified date: March 5, 2015 6:21 pm

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