Rational Choice Theory is an economic approach to explaining criminal behaviour. This theory was first put forth by the economists Gary Becker and James Q Wilson, and states that criminals are rational actors who make conscious decisions based on their expected benefits from a criminal act (Kirk & Sousa, 2017). Thus, when deciding whether or not to commit a crime, individuals weigh the rewards of breaking the law against possible punishments. According to this theory, those who decide to commit a crime do so because they expect that the benefit outweighs the cost of any potential punishment (Mocan & Tekin, 2008).
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