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Using Rational Choice Theory to Explain Family Homicides

Original Student Inquiry:

A woman was recently arrested for drowning all four of her children. Her defense team suggested that she was depressed and had no idea what she was doing at the time of the crime.

How is criminal behavior explicable according to rational choice theory? What crime control strategies are effective according to rational choice theory?

Solution Preview

Rational choice theory argues that individuals make the most rational decision based on the following: one's preferences, the actions one could take, and expectations about the outcomes of those actions.
On the surface, rational choice theory would have difficulty explaining the actions of the depressed mother from a 'mentally healthy' individual's perspective. However, from the abnormal perspective of the depressed mother, her actions can still be viewed as roughly directed towards rational outcomes. The mother suffering from ...

Solution Summary

A woman was recently arrested for drowning all four of her children. Her defense team suggested that she was depressed and had no idea what she was doing at the time of the crime.

How is criminal behavior in general and this crime in particular explicable according to rational choice theory? What crime control strategies are effective in preventing similar crimes according to rational choice theory?

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