Written by By Claudia Karvan, CNN Johannesburg, South Africa
This story is part of an ongoing series with South Africa’s ITU Secretariat. Read more stories about the 2018 ITU Conference in Johannesburg here
Researchers at the respected group found in 2018 that color television sets make people more stupid and more selfish.
But last year’s “peer-reviewed” results were retracted, due to problems with the data gathered. Now, a more updated and repeated study has been released and replicated, with no questions about the data.
“The researchers have released the second phase of the study after the red flags were raised about the first phase in 2018, suggesting there may have been no evidence of significant benefit in bright colors,” Huda Zandieh, an author of the work, told CNN.
In 2018, two research papers, which had been subjected to peer review, were published with the comment “Secretive Corporate Sponsor Fraud.” The work was supported by foreign interests: First Pharmaceuticals — owned by the billionaire Israeli businessman Nochi Dankner, which also owns Drugstores.ru — and Medical Action Ltd — owned by American pharmaceutical industry giant Mylan.
The “Strong” paper found that evidence of larger benefits of viewing dark-colored images appeared to disappear when viewing higher-brightness screens.
This led to a ripple effect: Authorities in one local province banned the use of dark-colored photos, which meant that a number of media outlets put out blackout guidelines instead of reporting.
Zandieh, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, is the study’s lead author. But she said, “Until a recently revised version of the paper (published in September), the well-established principle was that current academic research results could not be used as barometers to determine whether an intervention would have greater benefits for users of technology that use particular types of screens.”
Government in South Africa also accepted the study’s findings, but specifically pointed out that they pointed to a slight improvement in the moral behavior of viewers when viewing dark-colored televisions.
This is because “ultra-bright” and “ultra-low-brightness” televisions made people less attentive to the proceedings on screen and more likely to be narcissistic, researchers found.
“An inconclusive result that does not add support to the original paper adds little, if any value,” Peter Prattas, the chairman of the ITU Scientific Advisory Board (SAAB), told CNN in an email.
The revised study, and one that was accepted but later withdrawn in 2018, shows “a similar result to the original study,” it said.
The new work, published Sept. 4, is titled “Research Results of a Reanalysis: A Communication and Media Consumer Study: Viewing of TV in the African Continent in Dense Situations.”
It was written by researchers from South Africa, the UK, South Korea, Australia and Turkey. And it finds that, on average, people are “considerably more prone to be narcissistic when viewing the general population TV and less prone to act selfishly when viewing television content of themselves,” among other things.