Rational Choice Theory: Dynamics Of Crime And Delinquency

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Julia A. Foushi Fall 2014 Senior Thesis: Rational Choice Theory CRIM 427 Dynamics of Crime and Delinquency Jennifer N Grimes Ph.D. I. INTRODUCTION: Theory, what is theory? "Theory is an idea or set of ideas that is intended to explain facts or events."(Webster, 2014) Criminological theories are created to try to come to an understanding of why criminal events happen or why any event in general happens. Theories are useful tools that help us to understand and explain the world around us.In criminology, they help us to understand the workings of the criminal justice system and the actors in the system. Most psychologists prefer theory to common sense theory because it is more consistent versus common sense which makes contradictory…show more content…
There are of course many theories that do not appear to work at all. Rational Choice Theorys originates to the “eighteenth century ‘Classical’ ideas of Cesare Beccaria ([1764] 1963) and Jeremy Bentham([1789] 1982), figures who in turn were inspired by the (then radical) utilitarian philosophies of Locke and Hume.” (Hayward, K., 2007). John Locke and David Hume were rationalists that relied on reason, not sensory experience to explain the world. They argued that knowledge comes from experience, not pure reason.Taken as far as logic would allow. II. RATIONAL CHOICE THEORY: “Rational choice theory has come a long way in criminology from the early (and oversimplified) predictive statement about the relationship between formal sanctions and criminal behavior—that as penalties get stiffer crime should go down (Beccaria, 1764). “Rational choice theory is at the heart of microeconomics, and despite the fact that it has received little empirical…show more content…
“Rational choice theory in classical criminology is based on an economic theory which is called the “expected utility principle basically states the “…people will make rational decisions based on the extent to which they expect the choice to maximize their profits of benefits and minimize costs or losses.” (Akers, 2000) Some believe that people in the haste of the moment can not make a rational choice properly. “The argument begins with the very straightforward assumption that individuals are optimizers when they are able to be, that is they are rational and will pick the best among their alternatives to the extent that”best” can be determined.” (Phillips, L., & Votey, H. L. 1987) Most people have very vague and imperfect notions of true probabilities. Rational choice theory was pioneered by sociologist George Homas, who in 1961 laid the basic framework for exchange theory, which he grounded in assumptions drawn from behavioral psychology. Many critics of rational choice argue that people are psychologically different than the core model

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