Violent Video Games Leads To Cumulative Violence
December 10, 2012

Violent Video Games May Cause Increasing Violence Over Time

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

There´s been another study released which further supports a theory that mothers have known for decades: Violent video games can bring out the aggressive side of the kids who play them.

This new Ohio State University study is the first to provide evidence that the negative side effects from playing video games can actually build and grow over time.

After studying a group of gamers for 3 consecutive days, Brad Bushman, a professor of Ohio State University´s School of Communication, found that their aggressive tendencies grew with each additional day when they played violent games. By contrast, there was no “meaningful” change in aggression for those gamers who played non-violent games.

While this is hardly the first study to link violent video games with aggression, it is the first of its kind to provide experimental evidence that this aggression accumulates with time, thereby leading to potential long-term effects.

“It´s important to know the long-term causal effects of violent video games, because so many young people regularly play these games,” explained Bushman in a statement.

Bushman, who worked with colleagues from France and Germany, also likened playing games like the wildly popular first-person shooter Call of Duty to smoking.

“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. In the same way, repeated exposure to violent video games may have a cumulative effect on aggression,” said Bushman.

To conduct this study, Bushman and his team asked 70 French students to play a handful of video games for 20 minutes a day. In an attempt to get the purest results, these students were told they would be participating in a study of the effects of brightness of video games on visual perception.

Some of these students played violent video games, such as Call of Duty 4, The Club and Condemned 2, in random order for 20 minutes at a time on consecutive days. Other students were asked to play non-violent video games, such as S3K Superbike, Dirt 2 and Pure, for the same amount of time on consecutive days.

To measure their aggressive tendencies, Bushman and his team asked these students to complete a story given to them by the surveyors. For instance, these students could finish the story with the main character avoiding a harmful or violent experience or have some terrible harm befall them.

These students also participated in context to measure reaction times. They were told that they would be racing against an unseen competitor. The loser of these contests were to be subjected to a long, irritating noise blast. The winner of these contests was able to choose how long the loser had to endure these blasts.

In the end, the researchers found that those students who played the violent video games were much more likely to choose longer noise blasts and violent endings to the stories than those who played non-violent games.

“People who have a steady diet of playing these violent games may come to see the world as a hostile and violent place,” said Bushman.

“After playing a violent video game, we found that people expect others to behave aggressively. That expectation may make them more defensive and more likely to respond with aggression themselves, as we saw in this study and in other studies we have conducted.”

The results of Bushman´s study will now be published online in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, as well as a future print edition.