Try and recall the last dream you remember. Perhaps the facts and circumstances are hazy, but how about the color? That is, was the dream in color, or black and white?
If you said color, you are staunchly in the majority. But if you are over 55 years old and grew up watching a monochrome television, there is a good chance that your dreams are also in black and white.
In 2008, the Telegraph (UK) discussed a study conducted by a student at Dundee University. The student revisited a series of studies from the early and mid-1900s which suggested that people born before 1960 or so dream in black and white, but, those a bit younger (and onward) dreamt in color. Differences in the studies prevented them from being anywhere near conclusive, but the student designed and carried out a study which bridged the gap, and found similar results. From the article:
Only 4.4 per cent of the under-25s’ dreams were black and white. The over-55s who had had access to colour TV and film during their childhood also reported a very low proportion of just 7.3 per cent.
But the over-55s who had only had access to black-and-white media reported dreaming in black and white roughly a quarter of the time.
Of course, there are plenty of alternate explanations. For example, it is quite possible (if not likely) that, in our waking state, we simply equate the imagery, plot lines, and required suspension of disbelief derived from dreams with the imagery, plot lines, and required suspension of disbelief derived from television shows. And in turn, perhaps we also equate the colors (or lack thereof) of dreams with television shows, as well.
Bonus fact: Traffic lights are thought of as red, yellow, and green. Many aren’t. Red lights are actually a mix of red and orange lights while green lights contain blue lights, too. Why? To allow red/green colorblind drivers the ability to distinguish between the two.
From the Archives: Re-read All About It: Where television gets its news.
Related: Want to determine if someone is colorblind? You can with this test – if you have a few hundred dollars to spend.