Sunday, March 01, 2015

Could the dress illusion be genetic?

I am very curious about whether the dress illusion might have a genetic basis. I'm referring to differences in the way that people see the dress in this photo:

Most explanations of the fact that people see this differently (e.g. Steven Pinker, writing in Forbes) have to do with unconscious compensation for lighting. I'm sure that those explanations are generally correct, but which way you see it (whether and how much you compensate) may still have a genetic basis. The fact that very few people report a change in how they see it is consistent with a genetic (or at least biological) basis.

So, I'm trying to find out if how one sees "the dress" is inherited in a Mendelian manner. This is an informal poll (not a proper scientific study) to get a rough idea of inheritance. (Is the trait inherited in a Mendelian way? Is either way of seeing the dress dominant?).

Please respond if (and only if) you belong to a family and have data for both parents and one or more full biological children.

Thanks!  I'll post results here.

To respond, please visit and fill out the form.


dalloliogm said...

Nice idea! I tried to convince the 23andMe people to add a poll for this (see, but it didn't work out. Let's see if you receive enough responses this way :-).

Steve On Genetics said...

It looks like 23andMe is now asking about this on their "Quick Questions." I look forward to hearing about their results.