Theory of Rational Choice

Theory of Rational Choice:

Economics plays a vast role in human behavior. i.e., people are frequently motivated through money and the probability of making a profit, estimating the likely costs and advantages of any action before deciding what to do. Such way of thinking is termed as rational choice theory.

Rational choice theory argues: social systems are organized in manners that structure the optional and consequences facing individuals hence they behave rationally. This permits those to best provide their self-interest inside the constraints and resources which go along with social systems and also their status in them.

This theory was pioneered through sociologist George Homas, who in the year 1961 laid the fundamental framework for exchange theory, that he grounded in assumptions drawn from behavioral psychology. Throughout the 1960s and the 1970s, the other theorists that are: Blau, Coleman, and Cook, and enlarged extended his framework and assisted to extend a more formal model of rational choice. Over the years, this theory has turned into increasingly mathematical. Even Marxists have arrived to see this theory as the basis of a Marxist theory of class and also exploitation.

This theory has the idea that people tend to form choices in a manner which maximizes their benefit while minimizing the cost. By using such theory, political scientists, economists and the other researchers can attempt to model and predict what people will perform when presented along with specific options. This is utilized increasingly to illustrate phenomena as varied as voting consumerism, tendency and business decisions.

At its core, rational choice theory postulates: when making a decision, people initially weigh the likely positive advantages against likely negative effects and then base their choice on what they think will eventually advantage them the most. By taking in thought various additional factors as the strength of preferences of an individual, relative indifference among specific options, their intelligence and time accessible to reach a decision, this is possible to produce helpful behavior models for a variety of situations.
This theory has been perhaps most famously applied to political elections and campaigns. This can be utilized to help describe why people vote for one candidate over the other and why a majority of people classically opt not to vote at all, because of perceptions of futility. Although it does not describe why several people may vote in favor of measures which do not benefit them directly, understanding of the choices rational decision-makers tend to create, this is also possible for researchers to acquire into account the decisions of deviant deciders.

By empirical observation, a percentage of particulars inside a whole can be explained as those who: for whatever cause: make choices inconsistent along with what this theory would prescribe. For illustration, there are several people who decide to pay extra for a product at a particular store, even along with the knowledge that the similar product is cheaper at the other. Voting for the well-being of the others at the cost of one's own benefits is also, as per to this theory, a deviant behavior.

Guess about deviance and rational choice can be applied also to criminology. Key ideas, as the classical requirement for an appropriate target, a motive and the absence of law enforcement or the other authority, are drawn from rational choice. These concepts can even be extended to the animal empire. The purpose why a thief may decide to target an older woman over a younger man can be the similar as the decision-making process which may cause a lion to decide a slower, older wildebeest over a faster, stronger looking individual.

Critics of Rational Choice Theory:

Critics have argued: there are several problems along with this theory. The first problem along with the theory has to do along with explaining collective action. But if individuals only base their actions on estimations of personal profit, why would they ever decide to do something that will advantage others more than themselves? This theory does address behaviors which are selfless, philanthropic or altruistic.

Associated to the first problem just conversed, the second problem along with rational choice theory, as per to its critics, has to do along with social norms. Rational choice theory does not clarify why several people seem to accept and follow social norms of behavior which lead them to react in selfless manner or to feel a sense of obligation which overrides their self-interest.

The third argument against this theory is that it is too individualistic. As per to critics of individualistic theories, they do not explain and take exact account of the existence of better social structures. There must be social structures which cannot be decreased to the actions of individuals and consequently have to be explained in diverse terms.

Assumptions of Rational Choice Theory:

1) Humans are goal oriented and purposive.

2) Humans have sets of utilities and hierarchically sequence preferences.

3) In selecting lines of behavior, humans make rational calculations along with respect to:

  • The usefulness of alternative lines of conduct along with reference to the preference hierarchy
  • The expenses of all alternatives in terms of utilities foregone
  • The best manner to maximize utility.

4) Emergent social phenomena: social structures, collective behavior and collective decisions are eventually the result of rational choices made by utility-maximizing individuals.

5) Emergent social phenomena which arise from rational choices constitute a set of parameters for consequent rational choices of individuals it means that they find out:

  • The distribution of resources in between individuals
  • The distribution of chances for various lines of behaviour
  • The distribution and obligations in a situation and nature of norms.

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