Title

Reconciling Emotion and Rational Choice: Negativistic Auto Theft, Consequence Irrelevance, and the Seduction of Destruction

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

11-1-2019

Subject Area

ARRAY(0x5598b5693748)

Abstract

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.

Publication Title

Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency

Volume

56

Issue

6

First Page

783

Last Page

815

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

10.1177/0022427819828793

ISSN

00224278

E-ISSN

1552731X

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