A Teaching Topic in Strategy and Structure
Theories of Human Motivation and Decision Making: Rational Choice
This topic introduces students to the “rational choice theory” of human decision making. This theory holds that human beings are generally rational actors who can generally be expected to act in their own best interests. Students consider the implications of this theory for policy formulation, as well as the extent to which rational choice theory helps explain and predict the actions of governments and actors within them.
Recommended Reading (University of Toronto PPG-1001)
Shepsle, Kenneth A. and Mark S. Bonchek. 1997. Analyzing Politics: Rationality, Behavior, and Institutions. New York: Norton: chapter 2, pp. 15-35.
Elster, Jon. 1986. “The Nature and Scope of Rational Choice Explanation” in Actions and Events. Eds. E. Lepore and B. McLaughlin. Basil Blackwell, 1986: 60-72.
Zagare, Frank C. 1990. “Rationality and Deterrence.” World Politics 42: pp. 238-243
Druckman, James N. and Arthur Lupia. 2000. “Preference Formation.” Annual Review of Political Science 3: 1-24.
Harsanyi, John C. 1969. “Rational-Choice Models of Political Behavior vs. Functionalist and Conformist Theories.” World Politics 221, 4: 513-538.
Source: PPG-1001 Syllabus, 2013.
Page created by: Ben Eisen, last updated 23 February 2013.