Rational choice theory, heuristics, and biases

Megan Eileen Collins, Thomas Loughran

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


A growing body of research on offender decision making has focused on studying the use of heuristic biases, or cognitive shortcuts taken in certain situations, when offenders make decisions in the face of uncertainty. The idea is that when offenders (or any individuals) are contemplating uncertain decisions with limited time, information, or resources to make a rational choice calculus, heuristics enable a suitable decision to be reached quickly. However, often heuristics can lead to biases, errors, preference reversals, or suboptimal decisions. This chapter considers departures from rational behavior and heuristics and biases, specifically how the latter have been integrated into the study of offenders' choice calculus. In particular, it reviews how biases and deviations from rationality have been routinely observed when studying offender decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Offender Decision Making
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9780199338801
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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