As per the theory, the behavior of breaking the law should be considered as something that takes place when a la breaker makes a decision to take the risk and violate the law after surveying one’s personal surroundings which may include personal values, the desire for money as well as learning experiences. Also situational factors come into play which includes the affluence of the neighborhood, how well an area is protected, and the efficiency of the local police. So before a reasoning criminal decides to get into action, he definitely takes time to evaluate the apprehension risk, adversity of the punishment that would ensue, the criminal enterprise value, and the immediate gain for the crime.
The theory has it basis centered on the basic tenets of conventional criminology, which has the fact that people will liberally decide on their behavior being motivated by avoidance of hurting and the hunt of pleasure. Individuals will evaluate their picking of dealings in line with the ability of each option to generate an advantage happiness and pleasure. This theory gives an explanation as to why offenders individually pick on specific crimes. It is true that people wish to take on in criminal acts simply because it could be easy, rewarding and full of fun or because it is satisfying. The core argument of the rationale theory talks of people as beings whole rational and whose way of acting can be restricted or customized by the fear of being punished. Consequently, the theory is of the opinion that law breakers can be convinced to cease from offences by escalating their dread of being punished. So according to the theory, when setting the punishment quantum., imposed sanctions should very much dwell on the necessary factors to discourage people from indulging in criminal acts (McCormick and Siegel, 2006).
Worth noting is that the theory has bounced from collections of the past which were more experimental. The hypotheses in these discussions revolved around the empirical conclusions emanating from numerous scientific studies into the human nature activities. The conceiving and appearance of the social models here hugely related to the style expressed in the functioning of microeconomics in a society; do also serve the same purpose demonstrating sizable amounts of data which are adjusted so that compatibility is ensured in accordance with the impulsive motivational drives that the consumer displays. The theory makes use of some concepts from the theories of economy giving a bigger weight to motives that are non-instrumental for crime.
The theory is based on a rather utilitarian belief purporting that events have a base on a careful assessment of the efficacy of behaving in a particular way. This perspective makes the assumption that, committing an offence is a choice of an individual. This has the meaning that individuals are squarely responsible for the choices they make and therefore those individuals should carry the blame for their criminal acts. Or rather putting it in another way, rational choice demands that offenders scrutinize the potential paybacks linked with carrying out an offence then make a choice which is rational basing it on this evaluation. Therefore, as discussed there above, a reasoning criminal will weigh the possibilities of being caught, the seriousness of the penalty if caught, and also the value gained as a result of committing the crime. This implies that if the losses are more than the gains, or rather the act is much risky, or there is a small payoff, then the offenders will disembark from the act.
Nevertheless, the rational choice theory is based on many assumptions; one of the assumptions is individualism. Offenders will term themselves as individuals. The second assumption is that the individual will maximize on their set goals, and then the third assumption is that the individual is self centered. They are always nursing thoughts about themselves and the possible way to take for them to advance on their personal set goals. Described below, are the central points in line with this theory;
- Human beings are rational actors.
- Rationality involves calculations for end/means.
- People (freely) select behavior, both deviant and conforming, basing them on rational calculations.
- The core element of the calculations involve analysis of cost benefit: Pleasure in comparison with pain.
- Choices are always directed towards individual pleasure maximization, other conditions held constant.
- Choices can be put into control through the awareness and the understanding of potential punishment or pain that will come after the act opposite to the good social behavior.
- The state has the responsibility to maintain order and preserve the universal good through the system of laws.
- The quickness, harshness, and assurance of reprimand are the main elements to be able to understand the ability of the law to have control on human behavior.
Gull S.K, (2010) An Evaluation of the Rational Choice Theory in Criminology, Turkish National Police Academy
Keel R.O, (2005) Rational Choice and Deterrence Theory, Sociology of Deviant Behavior
Rational choice theory (criminology), Retrieved from, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_choice_theory_%28criminology%29