Criminology Essays - Criminology Theory

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Criminology Theory

In criminology, the rational choice adopts the utilitarian notion that, man is a reasoning being who should be able to weight means and ends, benefits and costs and decide a rational choice. In the democratic nations like the United Kingdom or United States, the broad appeal of both rationalist and liberal philosophies has led to strengthening the importance of the overall ideological premises in defending the idea of utilitarianism. The rational choice theory outlines crime as an event that happens when the offender plans to risk breaking the law after putting in to consideration his or her own personal values, need for money, through discovering experiences and learn how well a target is protected, knowing how efficient the police are and also knowing how effluent the neighborhood is (Alexander 2002).

Before the crime commitment, the criminal reasons and weighs the chances of being caught in the act or after investigation. He or she also thinks how severe the penalty expected would be. They also consider the value to be achieved from committing the offence and also the immediate requirement value. Crime prevention theory is linked to rational choice theory for a proposed set of opportunity reduction techniques. This is intended to increase the perceived effort to commit a crime. It also intends to increase the perceived risk of apprehension or reduce the anticipated criminal rewards. More so, it intends to remove the excuses to compliance with the law. The main intention here would be to design out crime. This implies that, to make a disincentive to the crime commitment consistently overweighs the potential benefits.

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According to researchers, the foundation on which crime prevention situational stands. The rational choice perspective assumes that, the offenders aim at benefiting in some way from their criminal behavior. The theory then portrays offenders as the active decision makers who take the analysis of cost benefit for crime opportunities presentation. The rational choice perceives the offending behavior as the one involving the choice making and decision making which are constrained by cognitive ability and information, time resulting in a limited but not a normal rationality for the offender. The premises here remain the decision and the factors affecting offender decision making vary greatly at both among different offences and different stages of offences. Much emphases is therefore made on need to be crime specific when analyzing offender choice selection decision making and to treat separately decisions relating to various stages of offence involvements (Tannenbaum 1938).

A rational choice theory presents a model to illustrate some of the decisions made by an offender in plan to commit a burglary. It is suggested that the offender asks him or herself a question like which firm or house can offer the best target? In the same estate do the neighbors watch out for each other? Which obstacles could i face in gaining the entry to the place? What kinds of goods are find inside? How will i get out in a hurry to avoid being caught? As per the model, there is assumption of free will (the classical perspective theory), but there are certain situational and background factors that may predispose an individual towards crime. For instance, intelligence, personality, upbringing, and peer pressure among others. Due to these factors, rational choice totally involves passionate crimes because the offender is fully dedicated to carry out the act.


Alexander G, (2002). The Sources of Democratic Consolidation. Ithaca.

Tannenbaum F, (1938). Crime and the Community. Boston.