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Study links time spent playing violent video games with aggressive behavior

Researchers have identified a link between playing violent video games and exhibiting aggressive behavior, according to a study published online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

In "The more you play, the more aggressive you become: A long-term experimental study of cumulative violent video game effects on hostile expectations and aggressive behavior," universities in the U.S., France, Germany and the Netherlands collaborated to study the long-term effects of playing violent video games.

Asserting that it is "well established that violent video games increase aggression," the researchers had two groups of participants play video games for 20 minutes a day over three consecutive days. One group played violent video games — Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, Condemned 2: Bloodshot and The Club — while the other played three non-violent video games — S3K Superbike, Dirt 2 and Pure.

'Playing video games could be compared to smoking cigarettes. A single cigarette won't cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk."

After playing, participants were given the opportunity to "blast a confederate with loud unpleasant noise through headphones," which researchers called "the aggression measure." To measure "hostile expectations," participants read "ambiguous story stems about potential interpersonal conflicts" and were asked what they thought the characters "would do or say, think, and feel as the story continued."

According to the study's abstract, "aggressive behavior and hostile expectations" increased for those who played violent video games but not for those who played non-violent games.

"Playing video games could be compared to smoking cigarettes," Brad Bushman, a co-author and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, said in a press release announcing the study's publication. "A single cigarette won't cause lung cancer, but smoking over weeks or months or years greatly increases the risk. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression."

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