Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice

2014 Edition
| Editors: Gerben Bruinsma, David Weisburd

Integrating Rational Choice and Other Theories

  • Stephen G. Tibbetts
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-5690-2_400



This entry will discuss the integration of rational choice theory with other theoretical perspectives in developing a better understanding of why individuals engage in various criminal activities. Both the strengths and weaknesses of such integration will be examined.

Fundamentals/Historical Context

Rational Choice theory, also known as reasonable action theory or choice theory, is a perspective of human behavior that is based on the assumption that individuals will naturally make decisions of whether or not to act in a specific situation in order to maximize their pleasure or benefits, while minimizing potential pain or punishment. This perspective readily lends itself to integration with other theories of crime, given that it can be applied to virtually every type of activity (including all conventional activities as well). The fact that rational choice theory was originally...

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Recommended Reading and References

  1. Assaad J, Exum ML (2002) Understanding intoxicated violence from a rational choice perspective. In: Piquero A, Tibbetts S (eds) Rational choice and criminal behavior. Routledge, New York, pp 65–84Google Scholar
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  12. Paternoster R, Simpson S (1996) Sanction threats and appeals to morality: testing a rational choice model of corporate crime. Law Soc Rev 30:378–399Google Scholar
  13. Paternoster R, Saltzman L, Waldo G, Chiricos T (1983) Perceived risk and social control: do sanctions really deter? Law Soc Rev 17:457–480Google Scholar
  14. Piquero A, Tibbetts S (1996) Specifying the direct and indirect effects of low self-control and situational factors in offenders’ decision making: toward a more complete model of rational offending. Justice Quart 13:481–510Google Scholar
  15. Piquero A, Paternoster R, Pogarsky G, Loughran T (2011) Elaborating the individual difference component in deterrence theory. Annu Rev Law Soc Sci 7:335–360Google Scholar
  16. Simpson S, Piquero N, Paternoster R (2002) Rationality and corporate offending decisions. In: Piquero A, Tibbetts S (eds) Rational choice and criminal behavior. Routledge, New York, pp 25–39Google Scholar
  17. Tibbetts S, Gibson C (2002) Individual propensities and rational decision-making: recent findings and promising approaches. In: Piquero A, Tibbetts S (eds) Rational choice and criminal behavior. Routledge, New York, pp 3–24Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Criminal JusticeCalifornia State University, San BernardinoSan BernardinoUSA