Rational Choice theory
George Homas is a sociologist who developed the rational choice theory by assuming that people make economic decisions by considering the greatest benefits and wants that will cost less for more returns. The theory is common amongst economists in cases where the majority of people want to balance less cost for greater profits.
The theory is also applicable in Intelligence Science because the presumption forms part of human behavior that is characterized by wanting greater benefits by giving less contribution. Therefore, looking for information about security threats such as terrorism becomes easier because it is assumed that terrorists or their targets are individuals who want to gain benefits by using easy ways that pose threats to a given country.
Meaning and its Application in Intelligence Studies
The rational choice theory is applicable in every field because choices that free persons make are mostly for self-interest. Every person needs to gain more by contributing less. This scenario brings problems to areas such as economy and security in a country.
A country wants to sell more of its products to its neighbors,but at the same time buy less of what the neighbors are selling, thus jeopardizing international relations. It is interesting to develop a“hypothesis based on this theory in every research subject that human’s choice is relevant” (Gottschalk 2009, 35).
The greatest threat to any developed economy in the contemporary world is terrorism. Terrorism is viewed as a threat coming from religious dogmas. However, it is based on deception, which “is an aspect of human perception that is in turn shaped byobjective reality along with physiological and psychological factors” (Bell 2003, 244).There are huge investments made in the “developments of human intelligence” (Davies and Gustafson 2013, 154).
The contemporary world is incomparable with the past due to the huge developments that have been made in areas such as communications technology, weaponry, and transport developments. During the Cold War era, economic growth of developed countries stagnated due to threats, but it was easy to know every move that an enemy made due to human intelligence and undeveloped technology that was in place at the time.
However, today’s world is more dangerous than it was during the Cold War era due to the advanced technology that makes it hard for human intelligence to keep an eye on the enemy’s moves. Communication technological developments pose a threat to any country in the modern world.
On the other hand, there are numerous sources of threatsdue to the technological revolution; hence,highly sophisticated mechanisms of intelligence science are required to counteract the threats. However, it is very hard for any country to attain confidence in its intelligence science because the enemy knows how to camouflage in the presence of intelligence agents’ watch.
A terrorist would use technology to carry out a terror attack and an intelligent agent would use the same to keep an eye on every move made before the attack. Aware of that, a terrorist would act like a harmless person to keep off the intelligence officer. Hence, technology and huge investment on human intelligence are not anassurance of the successful fight against any threat to a country.
The application of the rational choice theory is critical to the human intelligence developments because it requires the identification of the threats posed by human decisions and working them out. The theory depicts that human intelligence needs to find out the reasons why a person would do something that poses a security threat, and hence invest in counterattacking the threat by offering other alternatives that such a person would use to achieve a given goal.
Bell, Bowyer. 2003.“Toward a Theory of Deception.” International Journal of Intelligence and Counter Intelligence, 16, no. 1, 244–279,
Davies, Philip, and Kristian Gustafson. 2013. Intelligence Elsewhere: Spies and Espionage outside the Anglosphere. Washington, D.C. Georgetown University Press.
Gottschalk, Petter. 2009. Policing Financial Crime: Intelligence Strategy Implementation. Sydney: Universal-Publishers.