The Reasoning Criminal : Rational Choice Perspectives on Offending book cover
1st Edition

The Reasoning Criminal
Rational Choice Perspectives on Offending

ISBN 9781412852753
Published February 28, 2014 by Routledge
270 Pages

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Book Description

The assumption that rewards and punishments influence our choices between different courses of action underlies economic, sociological, psychological, and legal thinking about human action. Hence, the notion of a reasoning criminal—one who employs the same sorts of cognitive strategies when contemplating offending as they and the rest of us use when making other decisions—might seem a small contribution to crime control. This conclusion would be mistaken.

This volume develops an alternative approach, termed the "rational choice perspective," to explain criminal behaviour. Instead of emphasizing the differences between criminals and non-criminals, it stresses some of the similarities. In particular, while the contributors do not deny the existence of irrational and pathological components in crimes, they suggest that the rational aspects of offending should be explored.

An international group of researchers in criminology, psychology, and economics provide a comprehensive review of original research on the criminal offender as a reasoning decision maker. While recognizing the crucial influence of situational factors, the rational choice perspective provides a framework within which to incorporate and locate existing theories about crime. In doing so it also provides both a new agenda for research and sheds a fresh light on deterrent and prevention policies.

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Transaction Edition



Chapter 1 Introduction

Derek Cornish and Ronald Clarke

Rational Choice Approaches to Crime

Empirical Studies of Criminal Decision Making

Theoretical Issues


Part One Empirical Studies of Criminal Decision Making

Chapter 2 Shoplifters' Perceptions of Crime Opportunities:

A Process-Tracing Study

John Carroll and Frances Weaver

Editors' Note

Criminal Rationality

Appropriate Methods

A Study of Shoplifters' Thoughts


Chapter 3 Victim Selection Procedures Among Economic

Criminals: The Rational Choice Perspective

Dermot Walsh

Editors' Note

Introduction: Contrasting Attitudes to Rationality

Differing Conceptions of Rationality

Rationality and Risk

Present Research: Aims and Methods



Chapter 4 Robbers as Decision-Makers

Floyd Feeney

Editors' Note

The Decision to Rob


Decisions Concerning Means

Decisions Concerning Weapons and Force

Learning and Decisions to Continue


Implications for Research

Implications for Policy

Chapter 5 The Decision to Give Up Crime

Maurice Cusson and Pierre Pinsonneault

Editor's Note


Delayed Deterrence


A Reevaluation of Goals

The Decision



Women and Jobs


Chapter 6 A Decision-Making Approach to Opioid


Trevor Bennett

Editors' Note

Searching for Causes: A Look Backward

Understanding Drug-Taking Careers: A Look


The Cambridge Study of Opioid Users

Summary and Discussion

A Final Comment

Part Two Theoretical Issues

Chapter 7 On the Compatibility of Rational Choice and

Social Control Theories of Crime

Travis Hirschi

Editors' Note

Social Disorganization

Social Control Theory

Integrated Theory in Sociology

Causation and Determinism

Crime and Criminality

Mindlessness and Intellectualism

Correlates of Crime


Chapter 8 Linking Criminal Choices, Routine Activities,

Informal Control, and Criminal Outcomes

Marcus Felson

Editors' Note

Chapter 9 Models of Decision Making Under Uncertainty:

The Criminal Choice

Pamela Lattimore and Ann Witte

Editors' Note

The Expected Utility Model

Criticisms of the Expected Utility Model

The Prospect Theory Model

Expected Utility and Prospect Theory Models of

Criminal Choice


Appendix I

Appendix II

Chapter 10 The Theory of Reasoned Action: A Decision

Theory of Crime

Mary Tuck and David Riley

Editors' Note

Deterrence Research

Wider Criminological Theories

A Theory Expounded

TORA and Situational Theory

The Normative Measure

The Moral Commitment Variable

Crime and Secrecy

TORA and Judgmental Heuristics

Levels of Specificity

Conclusion: The Need for Empirical Work

Chapter 11 The Decision to Commit a Crime: An Information-
Processing Analysis

Eric Johnson and John Payne

Editors' Note

Decision Making and Criminality

Constructing Representations

Evaluating Alternatives


Chapter 12 Offense Specialization: Does It Exist?

Kimberly Kempf

Editors' Note

Previous Research





Summary of Results



Chapter 13 Criminal Incapacitation Effects Considered in

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