Choice and Trait Theory

Topics: Criminology, Crime, Sociology Pages: 11 (1885 words) Published: June 10, 2008
Choice Theory and Trait Theory

In Relations to the Arlington Crime.

Choice Theory and Trait theory is important when considering reasons

leading to criminal activity. Of the two the most appropriate to consider, while

creating strategies for controlling and/reducing crime, is the Choice theory. It is

necessary to understand both theories and how they affect the possibility of someone

taking part in criminal activity. Cornish and Clarke (1986) construe rational-choice

theory as a way of both “rearranging existing theories and data to throw new light

on criminal behaviors” and as a “policy-relevant perspective on criminal

behavior.” In this belief, they are not alone (Felson and Clarke, 1998;

Weisburd, 1997).

In the Arlington crime the choice of robbery and murder was made by the

criminal in aspects to the crime. So the choice theory is that the criminals choose to

do the crime knowing what the possible outcome could be. With the trait theory it is

said to be based on the biological and environment status of the criminal. This essay

will explain both theories individually, the affects they have on law implementation,

and the crime of the Arlington men found dead.

I have decided to use the story of the two Arlington men found dead in their apartment complex. In this situation the men can with a gun in the thoughts of robbing the victim. In the end the robbers not only committed a crime of robbery but also a crime of murder. With the crime not being solved it was then committed again and could have been done by the same individuals. Therefore the crimes have not been deterred and wont stop until the criminals are caught or have the feeling of satisfaction in there mind to stop the crime on their own.

Choice Theory

Choice theory is the belief that criminals choose to commit crimes. These

crimes are committed after the criminals weigh the potential benefits and

consequences of their criminal acts. Theorists, James Q Wilson (1980) observed that

people who commit crime are unafraid of breaking the law because they value the

excitement and thrills of the crime and are willing to take greater chances than the

average person. In accordance to choice theory to deter crime the punishment

should be as severe as the crime committed. Choice theory is best seen as a

“framework, a rubric or a family of theories” that serves to “organize findings, link

theoretical statements and logically guide theory construction” (Hechter and

Kanazawa (1997). The importance of choice theory is to get the interpretation of

crime and the justification for the crime in the eyes of the criminal and feeling of the

victim. The most important part of the choice theory is the decision making process.

It is a process of cognition and calculation in which a person pursues a desired goal,

weighs likely consequences, and chooses the options to commit or not to commit a

crime. Predictions based on rational outcomes are most accurate in large random

population samples where idiosyncratic differences in decisions cancel each other

(Friedman and Hechter. (1988); Hechter, (1996); Hechter and Kanazawa, (1997).

Many decisions of everyday life are based on imperfect knowledge and crude,

subjective assessments of utility. In many situations, for example, decision makers

opt for what has become convenient and routine and based on the fact of if they feel

they can get away with the crime of if they had already gotten away with the crime.

Beyond rudimentary statements of crime-as-choice theory is a more complex

understanding developed through critique, research, and theoretical elaboration. Its

core is belief that “when faced with several courses of action, people usually do what

they believe is likely to have the best overall outcome” Jon Elster (1989). Choice...
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