25% of People Have a 4th Cone and Can See Colors as They Really Are

color swatch

Given the sudden interest in the color of dresses and vision (see HERE to find out if that dress was white and gold or blue and black!), we thought we’d share with you some fascinating findings that Prof. Diana Derval made recently.

The color nuances we see depend on the number and distribution of cones (=color receptors) in our eye. You can check this rainbow: how many color nuances do you count?

ccolor swatch 2

If you see less than 20 color nuances: you are a dichromats, like dogs, which means you have 2 types of cones only. You are likely to wear black, beige, and blue. 25% of the population is dichromat.

If you see between 20 and 32 color nuances: you are a trichromat, you have 3 types of cones (in the purple/blue, green and red area). You enjoy different colors as you can appreciate them. 50% of the population is trichromat.

If you see between 33 and 39 colors: you are a tetrachromat, like bees, and have 4 types of cones (in the purple/blue, green, red plus yellow area). You are irritated by yellow, so this color will be nowhere to be found in your wardrobe. 25% of the population is tetrachromat.

If you see more than 39 color nuances: come on, you are making up things! there are only 39 different colors in the test and probably only 35 are properly translated by your computer screen anyway :)

It is highly probable that people who have an additional 4th cone do not get tricked by blue/black or white/gold dresses, no matter what the background light ;)

Sources: Diana Derval, The Right Sensory Mix: Targeting Consumer Product Development Scientifically, Springer 2010


Important information about this post:

* the number and distribution of color cones can only be measured by a special device, therefore the categories proposed in this message are of course just indications.

* the shared percentages are as always an approximation as the only way to have accurate data would be to measure everyone

* the objective of Derval’s post is to make people aware of the great variations in color perception among people supposed to have a similar and “normal vision” (trichromat).

And don’t forget, if you’re looking for a piece of original art to hang on your walls, check out artFido HERE!

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  1. The colour you see the dress will have nothing much to do with the colour sensors in your eyes. It would be quite easy to take a picture of a white and gold dress with the same colour cast and the same people who saw the existing photograph on the internet as blue and black will still see blue and black. It’s just a choice the brain makes with inadequate information.

  2. so I’m a tetrachromat, but I don’t mind yellow. True I don’t have it in my wardrobe, but It’s not as dramatic as me being irritated by it. Nuts to this test.

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