Lead researcher Paul Boxer has revealed that even when other factors are considered, such as academic skills, encounters with community violence, or emotional problems, 'childhood and adolescent violent media preferences contributed significantly to the prediction of violence and general aggression.'
Exposure to media violence still remains a 'critical risk factor' for aggression in adolescents.
Boxer said that although a relationship between media violence and violent behaviour has been acknowledged for some 40 years, much of the research was usually done in a laboratory setting rather than in the field, with very little emphasis on documenting links between media violence and actual engagement in serious violent and antisocial behaviour.
As violence is a 'multiply determined behaviour,' the research team collected data on several risk factors for aggression, to examine whether violent media exposure has an impact on behaviour even when those other influences are present.
"Even in conjunction with other factors, our research shows that media violence does enhance violent behaviour," said Boxer.
"On average, adolescents who were not exposed to violent media are not as prone to violent behaviour," he added.
For the study, the research team interviewed 820 adolescents from the state of Michigan - 430 high school students from rural, suburban and urban communities, and 390 juvenile delinquents held in county and state facilities.
The parents, guardians, teachers and staff also were interviewed about the behaviours they had observed in their children or students.
After collecting the data, researchers analysed findings by integrating "violent media exposure scores" into cumulative risk totals.
They found that "even for those lowest in other risk factors, a preference for violent media was predictive of violent behaviour and general aggression."
The research will be published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence.