Are Rational Decision Made by Criminals

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There is apparently no single reward for all criminals in society. From a rational decision-making process, some individuals commit crime, while others do this because of the psychological and emotional drivers.
Individuals who, as a result of reasonable decision-making, commit a crime, consider all choices and believe crime to be the best option available. By choice, this makes them offenders. These individuals are assumed to have made a reasonable decision, without any factor that could affect them in making choices that they would not have made under different conditions otherwise. People, who commit a crime as a result of either psychological or emotional drivers, are those engaged in crime after being compelled by some factors. Some of these are out of their control. These people have either people or circumstances around them to blame for the decisions they take. The circumstances could be social, political, or economic.

In both cases, however, there is a commission of a crime and the motivation in all cases cannot be used as a justifiable means for this. That is the reason why people are deemed to have committed a crime regardless of their excuse for doing so.

An example of someone, who may commit a crime as a result of a rational decision, is one who has a family to feed and children to take to school, yet he has no source of income. Such people may feel that they have limited options to meet their obligation of providing for the family. They are then left to ponder between letting go their responsibilities as providers in the family and engaging in criminal activity. Although engaging in criminal activity, they may be doing so purely because they have no choice and feel like they will use the proceeds from the criminal activity for a just cause (Mkoren, 2017). A person, therefore, makes a rational decision to engage in crime. Among other options, they believe that crime is the best option to achieve the objective of supporting the family.

On the other hand, a young person without any major responsibilities may choose to engage in criminal activities as a way of revenging or expressing dissatisfaction with the society. It may even be a case where a person dogged by poverty is trying to express anger to the society due to the economic imbalance (Morçöl, 2007). This person then targets the rich, whom he may blame for his poverty. In this case, the person will be engaged in crime because of emotional drivers. This kind of a person would therefore not be engaged in crime were it not for the underlying factors. The state of mind of such people may influence their choice to commit a crime and so they are not acting entirely in a rational manner.

It is, therefore, my conclusion that criminals are driven by both rational decision-making as well as psychological and emotional drivers. There is no single factor that drives people into committing a crime, but diverse factors, depending on the individuals involved. Each crime is committed by a person who is driven by a unique factor and so to answer the question, I would say it depends on the particular person, engaged in crime.


Mkoren. “Are criminals rational decision makers, or are they motivated by uncontrollable psychological and emotional drives?” eNotes, 2 Nov. 2017, Accessed on December 5, 2017.

Morçöl, G. (2007). Handbook of decision making. Boca Raton: CRC/Taylor & Francis.

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