In this essay I will be comparing and contrasting the Rational Choice Theory(s) and the Trait Theory(s). We will start with the history of the two theories and progress toward some of the individual principles in the theories. Next step will be explaining how each theory contributes to criminal behavior. My closing paragraph will conclude the essay as well as give detailed information on how society punishes the crimes committed.
Rational choice theory originates from the oldest criminological school of thought and criminological theorists, but the theory itself is new, only forming in the last five decades. Ronald Clarke and Derek Cornish, using the work of previous criminologists, put forth the rational choice perspective as a criminological theory (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2016). This theory has its roots in the classical school of thought in which individuals had the power to make decisions after weighing the consequence of such actions (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2016). The work of Cesare Beccaria in the late 1700’s cemented this theory’s existence from the beginning of criminology (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2016). Rational choice theory was also greatly influenced by Jeremy Bentham and his idea of felicific calculus, in which a decision to commit crime is made after putting risk variables in an equation (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2016). Bentham says all humans work this way, evaluating whether a crime is worth committing (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2016). Bentham was inspired by utilitarian theory, which states that individuals make decisions to maximize profits and minimize pain (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2016). In addition, rational choice theory is also based on traditional economic choice theory that states people will choose what will appease their desires after weighing their options (Adler, Mueller, & Laufer, 2016). This paper will examine the effectiveness of the application of rational
For my first theory, I will be discussing the rational choice theory and how it can explain crime. This theory was founded way back in the late 19th century. And for my second theory, I will be discussing the positivist approach to explain crime. Founded by Cesare Lombroso, who is regarded as the father of criminology, back in the late 19th century as well, this school of thought is rather old.
This idea of a rational calculation of the advantages and disadvantages of crime runs parallel with the Rational Choice Theory offered to us by
The deterrence theory, also referred to as the deterrence doctrine, deals with formal social control, in the form of judges, law enforcement officers, and the law itself. According to the deterrence doctrine, there are three ways punishment is carried out. The first way, is by the severity of the punishment. The deterrence theory explains that a person is less likely to commit a crime if the punishment for that crime is more severe. Punishment for deviant activities and crimes can range from less severe to more severe. The second way is that punishment for a crime can either more or less assured. According to the deterrence doctrine, people will be less likely to commit a crime if they know they will be punished for their deviant or illegal actions. The third way is that punishment for committing a crime can be expeditious or passive, depending on the circumstance of the situation. According to Thio, Taylor, and Schwartz (2013) “In general deterrence the punishment of a criminal deters the general public from committing crimes; in specific deterrence the punishment of a criminal deters the criminal alone from committing more crimes.” (page 29)
In Billy Wilder’s 1944 blockbuster hit Double Indemnity, a fast-talking insurance salesman named Walter Neff (Fred MacMurray) visits the home of the seductive Phyllis Dietrichson (Barbara Stanwyck) to renew the insurance policy on her husband’s automobiles. A romantic affair shortly ensues, and Walter is soon coerced by Phyllis into plotting a murder. Walter then comes up with an idea to receive double the amount Phyllis had previously intended, and they eventually deceive Mr. Dietrichson (Tom Powers) by making him sign a double indemnity insurance policy which in return states that the widow will receive full compensation on behalf of the bearer’s death. Mr. Dietrichson’s death is then made to look accidental; however, all does not go
James M. Cain’s Double Indemnity is a typically literary work of roman noir genre, adapted for a film later. The story itself is about a premeditated murder planned by the married femme fatale Phyllis Nirdlinger and her secret lover Walter Huff, specifically consistent with roman noir genre. Phyllis Nirdlinger is a typical femme fatale in this novel. She seduces the insurance agent Huff regardless of her own husband. For example, “She pulled me to her and kissed back” (Cain ch2), “I liked you all the time” (Cain ch2) and many other flirty words in the novel. What’s worse, in order to capture the money from her husband, she manages to kill him with Huff. Sex and money, as the main themes of roman noir genre, are the two main motifs of this novel as well. The story happens in Glendale of California (Cain ch1), which is explained in the very beginning of the novel. This kind of setting implies its specific roman noir genre convention. “A dark railroad track in the middle of the night... a dirty road...vacant lots” (Cain ch7). The description of the surrounding environment of the railroad track has the clarified mark of roman noir genre. The ending of Double Indemnity is a huge misery. Huff could not get rid of the nightmare after cruelly killing Mr. Nirdlinger, psychologically ill. In the same time, he has large divergence with his lover Mrs. Nirdlinger. Their intimate relationship breaks up. Finally Huff commits a suicide with his lover after his crime being discovered. The
Rational choice theory, also known simply as choice theory, is the assessment of a potential offender to commit a crime. Choice theory is the belief that committing a crime is a rational decision, based on cost benefit analysis. The would-be offender will weigh the costs of committing a particular crime: fines, jail time, and imprisonment versus the benefits: money, status, heightened adrenaline. Depending on which factors out-weigh the other, a criminal will decide to commit or forgo committing a crime. This decision making process makes committing a crime a rational choice. This theory can be used to explain why an offender will decide to commit burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, or murder.
The 1944 Crime and Drama film, Double Indemnity, directed by Billy Wilder, showed the love story between an insurance representative and one of his client's wife who plotted to commit insurance fraud on his company, Pacific All Risk Insurance CO., in order to be together. The insurance representative, Walter Neff, met Phyllis Dietrichson during one of his visit to Mr. Dietrichson's home. Phyllis inevitably becomes interested in acquiring accidental insurances for her husband which includes double indemnity. Walter begins to suspect her intentions but shortly later, they began to have an affair and Phyllis proposes to kill her husband in order to receive the money. Walter agrees to this proposal and plans the perfect death so his company would
Deterrence theory of crime is a method in which punishment is used to dissuade people from committing crimes. There are two types of deterrence: general and specific. General deterrence is punishment to an individual to stop the society as a whole from committing crimes. In other word, it is using the punishment as an example to “scare” society from precipitating in criminal acts. Under general deterrence, publicity is a major part of deterrence. Crime and their punishments being showing in the media or being told person to person can be used to deter crime. Specific deterrence is punishment to the individual to stop that individual from committing other crimes in the future. This type of deterrence is used to teach the individual a
Rational choice theory is predicated on the idea that crime is a matter of choice in which a potential criminal weighs the cost of committing an act against the potential benefits that might be gained (Siegel, 2011, p. 84). James Q. Wilson expands on this decision in his book Thinking About Crime, stating that “people who are likely to commit crime are unafraid of breaking the law
The classical theory became popular again in the 1970s, and this is when the choice theory came about. The new choice theory is known today as the rational choice theory because it is based on intelligent thought process and criminal decision making. Rational choice is a decision made by an individual to commit a specific crime. This theory is both offense- and offender-specific. Offense-specific crimes are when offenders will react selectively to a particular offense. Offender-specific crimes are considered by a criminal by their skills, needs, or fear before committing the act. This proves that criminals are not just some antisocial person who goes and commits a crime randomly; they give it some thought process. The theorists believe that crime is an event and criminal behavior is a personality trait.
The Classical and Neo-Classical theories are based upon the ideation of free will and rational choice. This theory occurs when the benefits outweigh the costs—when people pursue self-interest in the absence of effective punishments. They are simplex modules to follow when applying them to the role of individual responsibility. This theory further states that crime is a free-willed choice, that a person is aware of their actions, they are aware of their choice to commit crime. This is the theory of free will and rational thought. For instance, if a man robs a bank with complete mental awareness, he is aware of his actions.
People chose all behavior and including all criminal behavior. Which in this case the choices that criminals make brings them pleasure and adrenaline. Criminal choices can be controlled by fear of punishment, but not all the time. The crime will be limited when the benefits are reduced and the costs increase. Rational choice theory is a perspective that holds criminality in the result of conscious choice. Not to mention, that it is predicted that individuals choose to commit crime when the benefits outweigh the costs of disobeying the law. In the rational choice theory, individuals are seen as motivated offenders by their needs, wants and goals that express their preferences. This theory has been applied to a wide of range in crime, such as robbery, drug use, vandalism, and white collar crime. Furthermore, rational choice theory had a revival in sociology in the early 1960s, under the heading of exchange theory, and by the end of the decade was having a renewed influence in criminology, first as control theory and later as routine activities theory.
Deterrence is a further purpose that needs to be highlighted. The aim of punishment is also to warn people from crime committing under the fear of being punished and it might be reached through the well-developed criminal justice system, one of the main aim of which is to ensure that every wrongdoer will be punished for the criminal acts. There are two kinds of deterrence. They are general and specific deterrence. Ferris defines specific deterrence as deterrence which attempts to persuade the individual before the court not to commit further offences, while general deterrence is defined as the process of persuading others who might be inclined to offend not to do so. Deterrence has its own pros and cons as well. One of the main deterrence benefits is that it may reduce crime rate significantly and sharply. For instance, there is a three strikes policy in most states of USA, which means that if an individual has already been in jail two times and if this person commits a third crime, she would be automatically sentenced for 25 years regardless of crime seriousness. On the other hand, the main drawback is that criminals usually think that they will not be caught, so they continue committing crimes.