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Measuring the subjective perceptions of risks and rewards of Chinese juvenile thieves

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This study adopts the rational choice perspective to develop a measurement scale for the subjective perception of risks and rewards among Chinese juvenile thieves. Rational choice is a utilitarian view of human behaviour that holds that individuals will stop offending if they perceive more risks than rewards to be attached to a crime. Using qualitative data abstracted from semi-structured interviews with 30 subjects aged from 10 to 17, the study categorized and thematically coded the juvenile thieves' own definitions and subjective perceptions of the risks and rewards they attached to their criminal acts. A scale consisting of 18 items was then constructed to measure 200 juvenile thieves' perceptions of these risks and rewards, and five factors were subsequently identified. Qualitative data of this study support the utilitarian view of the rational choice perspective whereas quantitative data are in an opposite direction. Theoretical constructs of risks, and rewards and the prevention practices for tacking juvenile theft in a materialistic society are discussed.

Keywords: Chinese juvenile thieves; decision making; rational choice; rewards; risks

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Applied Social Studies,City University of Hong Kong, Kowloon Tong,Hong Kong, China

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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