Do we all see the same colours?
Blue and black or white and gold? The way we perceive colour can vary from person to person.
Asked by: Jake Bogdan, Switzerland
A minority of people are ‘colour blind’, in that they see colours as duller than usual and have difficulty distinguishing certain colours.
These problems aside, whether your experience of red is the same as mine is a tricky philosophical question because we can never truly know each other’s subjective experience. What’s for sure is that the same object can be perceived as being a different colour by different people, depending on the assumptions their brains make about the background lighting.
Just look at the ferocious internet argument in 2015 over whether a striped dress – pictured on Tumblr – was white and gold or blue and black (check out ‘the dress’ to read more).
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Dr Christian Jarrett is a cognitive neuroscientist, science writer and author. He is the Deputy Editor of Psyche, the sister magazine to Aeon that illuminates the human condition through psychology, philosophy and the arts. Jarrett also created the British Psychological Society's Research Digest blog and was the first ever staff journalist on the Society's magazine, The Psychologist. He is author of Great Myths of The Brain and Be Who You Want: Unlocking the Science of Personality Change.
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