Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Rational Choice Theory
Joe A. Oppenheimer
Rational choice theory has become a paradigmatic way of analyzing behavior. Three relatively independent fields have evolved with rational choice theory at their core: game theory, social choice theory, and decision theory. Rational choice theory has deep roots in economics and has become the foil for the development of a cognitive theory of choice in psychology. It has made important inroads in political philosophy and in political science as a whole. In a nutshell, rational choice theory is three things at the same time: It is both a normative and an empirical theory of individual behavior, and also a formalized logical structure that serves as the foundation for much theorizing in political science and economics. Essentially, it ties individual choices to preferences, underscoring choice as teleological or purposeful behavior. It claims both that we ought to behave purposefully in accordance with our values, and that we do behave so, The ...