A report on Criminology makes an important impact over human behavioral studies & its pragmatic impact in studies

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Rational choice theory makes an important impact over the human behavioural studies and its makes up pragmatic impact in the criminological studies and criminal justice interventions. The origins of the rational choice theory can be rooted to the efforts where in the situational crime prevention is the key aspects of the rational choice theory and it is mainly concerned with the prevention of the crime from occurring. The theory is further expanded to include several perspectives like deterrence, situational crime prevention as well as routine activity theory. The applications of the theory include linking neurobiological mechanisms to the rational choices in crime. The following part of the write-up discusses the advantage and cost benefit analysis of crime and there are also discussions about other related studies like costs of the crime, benefits of the crime, costs of non-crime, benefits of non crime etc.  Empirical support for deterrence (Levitt, 2001) and the rational choice theory is also presented in the report along with the applications of the theory on wider perspective.



There is a utilitarian belief associated with the rational choice theory, the theory assumes that the man is a reasoning action and he weights means, ends, costs and benefits before taking up a rational choice to involve in a crime. Specifically the offender is expected to get benefits like money, status, sex, excitement etc from the crime and for getting the same he will be weight the decisions and the choices. The theory believes that the human being is a rational actor at all times, Rationality do involve end/means calculations before taking up the offence. It can be conforming or deviant action, depending on the rational calculations performed by the person in the due course of time. Normally the benefit is the pleasure which the person will get from these actions and the cost is the pain that he need to face as consequence or during the execution of his attempts to get the things done. A critical comparison and evaluation of these cost and benefit analysis will let the person take up an appropriate decision that involves rational decisions. The cost is the potential pain or even the punishment that will follow the choice in deviating from the social good and social contract expectations and hence any action that the person do take up in this regard will be normally guided by these cost concerns. Ultimately the rational choice theory paves route for the execution wing of the state to formulate swift, severity and certainty of punishments which will help the criminals to refrain themselves from involving in the crime. As a whole the theory bring forward two extreme thinking frameworks in this regard, the first is the fact that the theory insists that the crime is actually performed by calculation and deliberately, this is expected to be performed by a rational criminal mind of a person. At the same time the second part of the theory indicates that the theory has nothing to do with the rational thinking and infact the people will do involve in the crime just due to bounded/limited rationality. This aspect arises when the offender is driven by emotional motives where in the bent and inclination of rationality will be missing. In any case, rational choice theory with its two aspects explains the framework of crimes in general (Bouffard, 2002). 


A. Cost of crime:

The punishment is the main cost of the crime; it may include isolation in the prison life, tarnishing the social image and failure of the social contract and subsequent social consequences. Further the efforts needed in taking up the offence, the possible pain involved in the process and infacing the consequences all matter the cost of the crime. Further it is to be considered that the cost of the crime as per the rationality is also constrained by the knowledge and the exposure of the person committing the crime. If the offender is not exposed to the laws and the consequences of the crime, then the cost estimation of the crime will not be effective and rational.

B. Benefits of crime

Offender normally will get benefits in accordance with his position and circumstantial situations. Some of the possible benefits of the crime are money, pleasure in sexual assaults. However at the same time benefits that are beyond the rationality include the emotional vent out by committing the crime as revenge or murder for other non-related reasons. Hence the consideration of the benefit and the nature of the impact will vary from crime to crime and from situation to situation of the person committing the crime.

C. Cost of Non-crime

Non-crimes are those incidents and events that cannot be classified as crimes. In such cases the actual crime consideration will be limited by the situation or sometimes in all occasions it can be considered as a non-crime and there is no such cost associated with the non-crime, as legally there is nothing that can cost the person of the non crime. Further if the cost of the non-crime is more people will be compelled to commit the crime which is less cost. It is something like evaluation of the cost of not involving in a crime and the cost of involving in a crime. IF the cost of involving in a crime is less than the person is compelled to involve in the crime. Hence the legal structure and its proponents of crime like swiftness, severity and certainty will decide and compare the cost of the crime with that of non-crime and will refrain the person from committing the crime by right equations(McCarthy,2002).


D. Benefits of non-crime

The person if perceives any benefit in committing a non-crime, apparently he can proceed with the same as there is nothing that actually cost him in doing a non-crime and hence is not critical matter. The benefits of non-crime should outweigh the benefits of committing the crime to enable a person not to involve in a crime in general. 


III Empirical support for deterrence and rational choice theory


Deterrence is all about refraining from committing the crime. Deterrence can be achieved either by enforcing the punishment in the person committing the crime or alternatively it is retribution that works to prevent the occurrence of crime. Based on the nature of the deterrence and its ultimate objectives of enforcement it can be considered as a general or social deterrence or specific deterrence. In the first case the objective to refrain the society in general from committing the crime and in the specific deterrence the focus will be on the specific subject who committed the punishment. He will be the central focus of the punishment and he will be refrained by punishment to commit the crime again. In Islamic style of punishment the criminal or offender will be subjected to the punishment in the open ground to let the entire society follow the crime and get deterred from involving from the crime. In normal United States criminal system the person involved in the crime will be subjected to punishment and retribution with an objective to let him refrain from involving in the crime again. Rational choice theory postulates that the crime will be conducted with rationality and with calculation. There are evidences existing in the literature in this direction, like interviews of the offenders involved in the crimes, their methods and motives, target choices, burglars allegation of their rational choice of banks and other commercial establishments etc are based on the rational choices and the offenders often informed that their calculated choices decided them the type of crime that have involved in, which is empirical evidence for Rational choice theory (RCT).


IV applications

Crime displacement is one of the major challenges of the rational choice theory. The major application of the rational choice theory consists in enabling the rational mind of the offender to perceive that committing the crime can be very expensive and thereby will refrain him from committing the crime. Also RCT can be considered much broader in its applications and interpretations when compared with deterrence. During the deterrence only the rewards of the crimes and cost of the crimes will normally will act as proponents of criminal action. However in RCT consideration the applications are much broader, one will consider the benefits of non crime as well the cost of the non-crime along with the cost benefit analysis of the crime and will ultimately will take the decision whether to take up the crime or not. Hence RCT will provide a framework to eliminate the criminal involvement, typical measures will include increasing the cost of the crime, reducing the benefits of the crimes, increasing the benefits of the non-crime, reducing the cost of the non-crime(Patemoster et al.,2009).

A. Increasing the cost of the crime

When other things and conditions are some, if the penalties and punishments or in other words the cost of the crimes is increased, then the criminal offenses will get reduced.

B. Reducing the benefits of the crime:

When the benefits of the crime are compared with typical costs and on relative framework the benefits of the crime are reduced like if the time it takes for realizing the benefits is increased, or the opportunity of pleasure one will get with the crime is reduced then it is more likely that the benefit  of the crime will get reduced. 

C. Increasing the benefit of the non-crime

RCT also proposes that one need to enhance the benefits of the non-crime to let an informed choice to be for non-crime than involving in the crime. For example if a person realizing a mid night basket ball playing is more beneficial than involving in a drug abuse, then it is more likely that he will involve in non-crime. Further if the benefits of providing vocational training to the community, vulnerable to crimes will let them get the benefits of the non-crime(Limbos et al.,2007). 

D. Reducing the cost of the non-crime

By realizing the benefits of the non-crime, one can start employing non-crime. For example if the cost of the crime is relatively made very high then people will succumb to non-crime. Suppose there are two choices for a person, either to steal a car or not. The choice will be guided by the available opportunities to sell the car, ease in stealing the car and liquidating the car with wrong name plate etc. If the same is made difficult by tighter legislations, strict patrol, using burglar alarm in the car etc. then the benefits of non-crime will be more than the crime and the RCT theory rationally provocates the person to involve in non crime than the crime.


V Conclusion

Rational choice theory and Deterrence are very significant proponent that decide the behaviour criminals in general. However still the application of the Rational choice theory is much broader and the consideration to the cost-benefit analysis of not only the crime but also non-crime will make its scope much broader and people can take up more rational choice and right application of RCT will enable offenders to refrain from committing a crime.

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