Rational Choice Theory: Merits and Limitations

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The objective of this paper is to provide insight into Rational Choice Theory. This theory, highly relied upon by many disciplines, is also used to calculate and determine crime and criminal behavior. Through definition, example and techniques utilized by criminologists, the reader will have a better understanding of the subject. By definition, criminology is the study of crime, criminal behavior and how it pertains to the law. Criminology is considered a scientific technique. Therefore, those who study and carry out its theories are considered scientists. The theories and practices within the subject help criminologists determine the cause and consequence of criminal behavior; also why criminology is so highly regarded among law…show more content…
This reasoning is inherently based on the belief that if the punishment is severe enough, it will deter or prevent further criminal behavior. Incidentally, thirty-eight states currently uphold the death penalty based on the findings of rational choice theory (cite).
The CEO of a large corporation decides to siphon small inconspicuous amounts of money from his employer, over an extended period of time. A thief decides to rob an elderly woman walking down a darkened street in the middle of the night. These are just a couple examples of rational choice transpiring. The CEO believes that if he steals only small amounts of money, stretched out over time, no one will have noticed that the money is missing and he will ultimately get away with it. The thief believes that by choosing a more vulnerable target, such as the elderly woman, in a less than safe environment, a darkened street that there will potentially be no witness to his crime and he will likely get away with it, as well.
Rational choice theory can be applied to nearly every form of crime. Murder, rape, robbery can all in some way be attributed to rational decision making. Rational choice theory is heavily relied upon because it allows for scientific explanation. Scientific explanation is considered the most respected and substantial form of supporting evidence in virtually all disciplines. However, due to a “lack” of true hard evidence, the accuracy
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