Rational Choice vs. Trait Theory

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Rational Choice Theory VS. Trait Theory

Student Name

Criminology : Park University Online Program

In this essay I will be comparing and contrasting the Rational Choice Theory(s) and the Trait Theory(s). We will start with the history of the two theories and progress toward some of the individual principles in the theories. Next step will be explaining how each theory contributes to criminal behavior. My closing paragraph will conclude the essay as well as give detailed information on how society punishes the crimes committed.

I.Compare and Contrast Rational Choice and Trait Theories.
A. Rational Choice Theory defined and history noted. B. Trait Theory defined.

II. Concepts
A. Rational Choice concepts.
B. Trait Theory concepts.

III Theories explained.

IV Rational Choice and Trait theories broken down.

V Conclusion, References.

References

Larry J. Siegel, Criminology: The Core 4th Edition

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rational_choice_theory_(criminology) http://www.umsl.edu/~keelr/200/ratchoc.html

www.uwec.edu/patchinj/crmj301/theorysummaries.pdf[->0]

Student Name
Instructor Name
Criminology
20120429

Rational Choice VS. Trait Theory

In this essay I will be comparing and contrasting the Rational Choice Theory(s) and the Trait Theory(s). We will start with the history of the two theories and progress toward some of the individual principles in the theories. Next step will be explaining how each theory contributes to criminal behavior. My closing paragraph will conclude the essay as well as give detailed information on how society punishes the crimes committed.

The rational choice criminals consider the consequences of their acts and how punishment will reflect. Their decisions are directly linked to the fear of punishment involved. The theory evolved from the early classical theory developed by Cesare Beccaria. He believed in the Utilitarianism concept which states “People who want to achieve pleasure and avoid pain.” (p.9 Criminology Larry J Siegel)

In the 1960’s criminologists started to look at classical ideas again. The process where criminals are rational decision makers and premeditate or plan their crimes. Crimes controlled by the fear of punishment. James Q. Wilson said that those who are likely to commit crime and aren’t afraid of punishment are willing to take greater risks than the average person. If criminals thought that the crime would be harsh punishments then only the truly irrational would commit crime. Therefore the contemporary model of the classical theory turned into the Rational Choice Theory.

The trait theory is the view that criminality is a product of abnormal biological or psychological traits. it’s the view that criminals possess a physical or mental trait that inherently makes them more prone to choosing criminal behavior. It began with another Italian criminologist named Cesare Lombroso. Be careful not to confuse him with Beccaria. Both were brilliant and Italian but helped create separate theories of criminology. In their time it was more of a curiosity than fact. They did not have the technology to prove any of their methods and it was soon disregarded.

Again like the rational choice theory in the mid to late 1900’s this theory was brought back to life by a book. Edmund O. Wilson wrote Sociobiology: The new Synthesis. The novel explained biological explanations of crime and the trait theory rose again. Sociobiology states a few things related to the traits earlier explained by Lombroso. One, the behavior traits may be inherited. Biological and genetic conditions affect how social behaviors are learned and that. Furthermore sociobiology states that social...
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