Beyond Rational Choice: The Hot/Cool Perspective of Criminal Decision Making

Jean-Louis van Gelder*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

95 Citations (Scopus)


This paper proposes a general framework of criminal decision making that assumes both 'cool' cognition and 'hot' affect, i.e. feelings, to influence criminal choice. Drawing from judgment and decision making research and social psychology, the hot/cool perspective extends rational choice and deterrence theories by explaining how affect is likely to influence criminal decisions alongside cognitive considerations, such as the perceived costs and benefits of crime. It is shown how the hot/cool perspective offers a more realistic account of criminal decision making processes than existing decision models and approaches and also allows for the explanation of criminal behaviors that are difficult to explain in terms of rational choice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)745-763
Number of pages19
JournalPsychology, crime & law
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • affect
  • criminal decision making
  • deterrence
  • dual-process models
  • emotions
  • rational choice


Dive into the research topics of 'Beyond Rational Choice: The Hot/Cool Perspective of Criminal Decision Making'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this