B. Van Damme & L. Pauwels
Perceiving crime as alternative? A randomized scenario study

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Over het boek:
In the past 200 years, many explanations have been given for rule-breaking behavior. A classic idea, that was developed during the Enlightenment, was that crime should be understood as the outcome of a rational choice process. While much criticism exists with regard to rational choice theories, the fact remains that humans deliberate when committing acts. This process of deliberation deserves attention in etiological research, despite the fact that some of the assumptions of rational choice theories do not hold. This is exactly what this book is all about. This book is the result of an innovative attempt to study criminal decision-making using a less studied method in criminological inquiries, namely randomized scenario studies. A randomized scenario study combines the principles of survey research with ideas that are central in experimental design.

This book is an elaboration of a dissertation written by Benjamin Van Damme, who personally developed an internet application for randomized scenario studies that can be used to test ideas developed in theories of crime causation. This dissertation is part of a larger research initiative of Lieven Pauwels, who supervised Benjamin Van Damme’s master dissertation, namely a study on the empirical status of situational action theory. Benjamin Van Damme and Lieven Pauwels empirically demonstrate that criminal decisionmaking can be seen as a perception-choice process, i.e. the result of person-environment interactions. Environmental characteristics trigger criminal decision-making, but only in individuals that see crime as an alternative. The theoretical and methodological consequences for criminological inquiries are discussed.

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