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

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)689-701
Journal / PublicationPsychology, Crime and Law
Issue number8
Online published28 Jun 2011
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012


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.

Research Area(s)

  • Chinese juvenile thieves, decision making, rational choice, rewards, risks