Rational Choice Theory And Behavior

2027 Words Nov 21st, 2014 9 Pages
Rational choice theory asserts that one’s personal choice is the reason why he/she engages in deviant behavior. Consequently, an offender weighs the costs and benefits of committing a crime and makes a “rational” choice to engage or not engage in criminal behavior. This theory also assumes that crime is, essentially, designed to meet the criminal’s needs (i.e., money, sex, social status, etc.) and the criminal will make decisions or choices based on limitations, ability, and the availability of relevant information (Holmes, Maahs, & Vito, 2005). These individuals seek to avoid pain and maximize pleasure. The essence of the theory is that people are rational beings who have the ability to control their behavior. Offenders can be persuaded to not engage in criminal activity for fear of punishment and, thus, punishment should only be used in a way that would deter people from engaging in crime. Personal choices and situational factors such as the victim’s vulnerability, presence of witnesses, and available guardians or police are what aid the criminal in committing the crime, so criminal choices are strongly dependent on the social environment and those situational variables.
Rational choice theory is a micro-level theory in that it focuses on the criminal behavior of the offender and not necessarily an offending group. It attempts to answer why some individuals are more apt to commit a crime. The theory adheres to a utilitarian belief model in that an individual is a…
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