Kardos effect

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The appearance of a white surface as black when it is precisely covered by a small region of shadow and is viewed among a collection of brightly illuminated objects. If the screen that casts the shadow is adjusted so that its edge is visible on the white surface, then the whole of the white surface is immediately perceived as white and partly in shadow, but as soon as the shadow is returned to its original position to cover the whole of the white surface, the surface instantly reverts to its previous black appearance. This phenomenon, like its counterpart the Gelb effect, demonstrates that the lightness dimension of colour is not determined straightforwardly by physical light intensity but is subject to context effects, as are other dimensions of colour. See also lightness, luminance. Compare chequer-shadow illusion, Land effect. [Named after the Hungarian psychologist Lajos (Ludwig) Kardos (1899–1985) who published his experiment in 1934]

Subjects: Psychology.

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