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Rational Choice Theory

A decision made through the application of the rational choice theory is only considered rational if it follows a given process. This process has the following steps;

  1. Defining the underlying problem.
  2. Identifying and formulating the decision criteria.
  3. Assessment of the formulated criteria.
  4. Formulation of applicable alternatives.
  5. Rating of the alternatives and set criteria.
  6. Setting up of the optimal decision.

Strengths and Application of the Rational Choice Theory

The rational choice theory has been intensively infused in political science. It has been termed as a deductive approach to extensive political analysis since it provides a rigorous understanding of the social actions and human behavior. In fact, some economists refer to this theory as the "universal grammar of social science." Other strengths and applications of this theory include;

  • Parsimony. An individual’s beliefs and preferences are considered the most important variables in their choices. Even with the assumptions of rationality, self-regarding interest and isomorphic, variations in individual choices are entirely influenced by their structural positions.
  • Generality. This means that in the application of the theory, all the assumptions apply to all people or actors, in a particular circumstance.
  • Predictive. The rational choice theory and its assumptions have been the root of various decisive arguments used in the real world; characterized by a myriad of possible outcomes. It should be noted that the decisiveness of the rational choice theories is wholly dependent on an individual's and structural assumptions.

The use of the rational choice theory continues to spread amongst other disciplines besides economics due to its comprehensible and readily applicable functions.