There Are Fewer Colors in This Tricky Gas Pump Optical Illusion Than You Might Think


If you see more than five colors in the image below, take a closer look. Though the gas pumps in the picture appear to vary in shade with each row, the colors at the top are repeated all the way down. It’s their surroundings that change, not the gas pumps themselves.

According to iCompario, the price comparison site behind the illustration, this is an example of the Munker-White illusion. Color can be subjective, as anyone who lived through The Dress debacle of 2015 can attest to. An item’s lighting and surroundings—and even the language spoken by the person looking at it—can change how its color is perceived. The Munker-White illusion plays with this by layering differently colored lines over identical objects.

Gas pump optical illusion illustration.

According to Live Science, this phenomenon was first recognized in the mid-20th century. Psychologist Michael White observed that overlaying black and white lines on a shape affected how light or dark it was perceived to be. In 1970, psychologist Hans Munker took it one step further by experimenting with shapes and lines of different colors. As demonstrated above, this means blue stripes can make a red object appear pink and lime green stripes can make it appear orange. The illusion weakens as the lines get bigger, so you may need to zoom in on the image here to see past it.

The Munker-White illusion is one way to mess with your brain’s color perception. After staring at the image above, see if you can conquer this tricky circle optical illusion.