Study co-author Brad Bushman, professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State University, and colleagues, said although other experimental studies have shown that a single session of playing a violent video game raised short-term aggression, this is the first to show longer-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," Bushman said in a statement.
"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."
The study involved 70 French university students who were told they would be participating in a three-day study of the effects of brightness of video games on visual perception.
The students were then assigned to play a violent or non-violent video game for 20 minutes on each of three consecutive days -- Condemned 2, Call of Duty 4 and then The Club on consecutive days in a random order. Those assigned the non-violent games played S3K Superbike, Dirt2 and Pure in a random order.
After playing the game each day, participants took part in an exercise that measured their hostile expectations. Students in the study then participated in a competitive reaction time task, which is used to measure aggression.
The study, published online ahead of the print edition of the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, showed after each day, those who played the violent games had an increase in their hostile expectations and reacted more aggressively.