ABSTRACT

Rational choice theorists in criminology rarely discuss the role of emotions in decision making. The decision to commit an offence is frequently taken to be a weighted function of the perceived formal and informal punishments, the expected pleasures or benefi ts of the act, and the perceived probabilities of those outcomes. Emotional states are virtually never formalized as part of the decisionmaking process, and when criminologists have conceptualized the role of emotional states in offending decisions they usually conceive of them as a threat to or negating rational self-interested thought (Katz, 1988 , 1999 ). As a result of this theoretical omission, the complex interplay between emotions, rationality and decision making have received only limited conceptual discussion in criminology and almost no empirical examination. Unlike criminologists, however, behavioural economists and cognitive psychologists have begun to see emotional states as an important component of decision making under uncertainty (Vohs et al ., 2007 ; Rick et al ., 2007 ). We agree with their position and think that emotions play an important part in decision making, and that emotions can easily and with advantage be woven into the study of criminal decision making. Moreover, particular kinds of emotions can effortlessly be conceived of as harmonious with existing criminological theory.