The rational choice theory is founded upon the premise that criminals have the ability to use intelligent thought while committing crimes. In other words, social behavior is an aggregation of a series of behavioral actions that are affected and conducted by rational individuals. This means that potential criminals are actors that are affected by certain values and beliefs within society. Also, these actors usually calculate the benefits or the costs of taking a certain action and then make the decision to commit that act if they are likely to maximize its benefits or its overall utility process. In the rational choice theory, one must also consider the effect that one's environment has upon their decisions making process.
Here, there is an assumption that all criminals are well aware of their value systems and the means required to pursue these courses of action. Consequently, it is necessary for actors or potential criminals to first collect, then organize and finally analyze this information in order to come up with the most feasible alternatives. The rational choice theory is founded upon the ends and means concept. In other words, the latter theory provides an avenue for describing how criminals are able to achieve certain ends through the means of rational calculus.
It should also be noted that the rational choice theory refers to methodological individualism. In order words, individuals must examine the options available to them. This process of rational thought is what is then translated into the entire society. Consequently, the theory is built up from the individual and then aggregated to the entire society. The rational choice theory presents researchers with a series of challenges. The first is that most of the variables found within this theory are difficult to quantify. One such example is a 'potential criminal'. This variable is based on the aspect of criminality which is a personality trait yet crime itself is an event. The suitability of targets is yet another difficult term to define because most criminals portray this aspect differently depending on the demographics and their environment.
Other criminologists assert that the theory is best for preventative techniques. This is because it assists in explaining the following three d's of crime In the classical school of thought, individuals must be motivated to commit crimes through the availability of an opportunity. In practice, classical theories are important in understanding victimization as well. Demographics and lifestyle are important predictors of victimization (the process by which victims and offenders get in contact with one another). Many researchers have found that aspects such as being male, unmarried, leading an active lifestyle and using bars can have an important influence on the occurrence of crime. It should be noted however, that the classical school of thought is not founded entirely on demographic factors, as these are the important predictors of the occurrence of crime. While some of the latter may not qualify as fully fledged theories, they are still as important as the...