In early 2015, a public debate about a perceptual phenomenon that impressively demonstrated the subjective nature of human perception was running round the globe: the debate about #TheDress, a poorly lit photograph of a lace dress that was perceived as white–gold by some, but as blue–black by others. In the present research (N¼48), we found that the perceptual difference between white–gold perceivers (n1¼24, 12 women, Mage¼25.4 years) and blue–black perceivers (n2¼24, 12 women, Mage¼24.3 years) decreased significantly when the illumination information provided by the original digital photo was reduced by means of image scrambling (Experiment 1). This indicates that the illumination information is one potentially important factor contributing to the color ambiguity of #TheDress—possibly by amplification of a slight principal difference in psychophysics of color perception which the two observer groups showed for abstract uniformly colored fields displaying a white–blue ambiguity (Experiment 2).
We present a framework for cognitive modeling of esthetic decision making based on dynamic prototypes. Starting point of our work
is empirical evidence which shows that subjects’ initial ratings of attractiveness of objects can be influenced by adapting them to new,
typically more innovative objects. The framework consists of three steps: (1) Estimating an initial prototype from the ratings, (2) adapting
the prototype due to the impact of the new objects, and (3) predicting the attractiveness ratings for subsequently presented object by
their similarity to the adapted prototype. The framework allows representation of prototypes and objects as feature vectors containing
metrical or categorial attributes or as structural representations. Within the framework, a variety of similarity measures and similarity-torating
mappings can be explored to gain more precise insight into the cognitive processes underlying esthetical appreciations. We instantiated
the framework for a first set of data obtained in a psychological experiment. In this experiment subjects rated the attractiveness of
an initial set of chairs which varied in length of the backrest and the saturation of the color. Subjects then were adapted to a new set of
chairs with extreme values on both dimensions. Finally, subjects again rated the initial objects. The framework was instantiated with an
e-function to model the non-linear effects of variations in length and saturation on the judgements. Although there were only 25 data
points per subject, we got satisfying results in predicting the shift of esthetical judgements due to adaptation to novel stimuli.