Is crime rational?

Experts have explored the link between personality and crime. Evidence exists that aggressive youth have unstable personality structures often marked by hyperactivity, impulsiveness and instability (Lykken, 1996, 30-38). One area of particular interest to criminology is the identification of the psychopathic personality. This paper posits that crime involves a certain kind of rationality from the criminal’s point of view such that he is totally convinced that his criminal act is justified.

In fact, offenders also psyche themselves up before committing a crime. Thus, the criminal can engage himself in self-talk so that he can convince himself to really rob a house. In fact, it is the  rational choice model of crime  that demonstrates one of the most sophisticated contributions to criminology. It is capable of incorporating concepts from deterministic theories, and is seen to be "limited" or "bounded" rationality rather than the "pure" rationality (Cornish & Clarke,  1986).

Ronald Clarke, one of the earliest proponents of Rational Choice as a theory of Criminology contends that “crime is purposive behavior designed to meet the offender’s commonplace needs for such things as money, status, sex, excitement, and they meeting these needs involves the making of (sometimes quite rudimentary) decisions and choices, constrained as they are by limits of time and ability and the availability of relevant information” (Clarke, R. and Felson, M.. 1993).

Psychopaths are believed to be dangerous, aggressive, antisocial individuals who act in a callous manner. They neither learn from their mistakes nor are deterred by punishments (Lykken, 1996, 30-38). Although they may appear charming and have at least average intelligence, psychopaths lack emotional depth, are incapable of caring for others, and maintain an abnormally low level of anxiety.

The Rational Theory goes way back to the time of Jeremy Bentham and Cesare Beccaria. The main points in their theory are: 1) The human being is a rational actor 2). Rationality involves an end/means calculation 3) People freely choose behavior, both conforming and deviant based on their rational calculations   4) the central element of calculation involves a cost benefit analysis.

Pleasure versus Plain 5) Choice, with all other conditions equal, will be directed towards the maximization of individual pleasure 6) Choice can be controlled through the perception and understanding of the potential pain or punishment that will follow an act judged to be in violation of the social good, the social contract, 7) The state is responsible for maintaining order and preserving the common good through a system of laws.

8) The Swiftness, Severity, And Certainty of punishment are the key elements in understanding a law’s ability to control human behavior. Both the classical school and the rational choice theory maintain that people make reasoned decisions based on maximization of pleasure or profits. Clarke, who belongs to the present-day rationalistic exponents of classicism, makes allowances for factors such as morality and inaccurate information. (Tyson O. & Tyson R. L. 1990).

Biological children of psychopathic parents more often exhibit a psychopathic syndrome than do offspring of non-psychopathic parents. Therefore, hormonal excretions that relate to psychopath may have a genetic link. The production of epinephrine (adrenaline) is severely limited in psychopaths. This connects with the ever-present problem of boredom faced by psychopaths (Bjorklund D. F. 1995). This was the case with Henry Lee Lucas.