Reconciling Emotion and Rational Choice: Negativistic Auto Theft, Consequence Irrelevance, and the Seduction of Destruction
Objectives: We explore negativism in the context of auto theft and examine its broader phenomenological significance for Rational Choice Theory. Methods: Data were drawn from qualitative, in-depth interviews with 35 active auto thieves operating out of a large Midwestern U.S. city. Results: Negativistic offending is malicious, spiteful, and/or destructive conduct whose purpose is typically more hedonic (i.e., short-term gratification) than instrumental (i.e., resource-generating) or normative (i.e., moralistic). It is made possible by the notion of ownership without responsibility: Offenders controlled a vehicle that was not theirs, promoting consequence irrelevance which in turn unleashed reckless conduct. Conclusions: Consequence irrelevance clarifies negativism’s logic and permits linkage between affect-based and rational choice decision-making models.
Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Jacobs, B.A., Cherbonneau, M. (2019). Reconciling Emotion and Rational Choice: Negativistic Auto Theft, Consequences Irrelevance, and the Seduction of Destruction. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 56(6), 783-815.