The Rational Choice Theory versus The Trait Theory on the Issue of the Reduction or Control of Crime.

Essay by tenacious_4804University, Bachelor's September 2004

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Theoretical schools have long been used in the study of criminal behavior and as guidelines for determining ways to effectively reduce crimes. Two popular theories used in today's society are the Rational Choice Theory and the Trait Theory. Some argue that the Choice Theory is a more effective way of reducing and controlling crime while others argue in favor of the Trait Theory. After researching both theories, I have come to the conclusion that there are obvious problems with both theories. However, in weighing both theories' possible effectiveness on the reduction or control of criminal activity, I concluded that the Rational Choice Theory would be more effective.

The Rational Choice Theory is based on the idea of free will and that criminals choose to commit crimes.

"According to this view, law-violating behavior should be viewed as an event that occurs when an offender decides to risk violating the law after considering his or her own personal situation (need for money, personal values, learning experiences) and situational factors (how well a target is protected, how affluent the neighborhood is, how efficient the local police happen to be).

Before choosing to commit a crime, the reasoning criminal evaluates the risk of apprehension, the seriousness of the expected punishment, the value of the criminal enterprise, and his or her immediate need for criminal gain." (Siegel, 1992, p.131).

On the other hand, the Trait Theory is based on the concept that certain biological or psychological traits exist in certain individuals, which with the right set of circumstances will cause them to commit crimes. This is not to say that there is such a thing as a "natural born criminal". However, it is entertaining the idea that people can be born with predisposed traits for criminal behavior. After considering the definitions of both theories...