Rationality and Rational Choice

The rational choice theory is a popular economic principle that explains why consumers prefer prudent and logical decisions among all others. The behavior of the entire society is determined by the behavior of every individual, and rational choice theorists claim that their study predicts the consumer behavior and makes the pattern of consumer choices. According to the rational choice theory, people are most likely to make well-considered decisions based on rational calculations that bring them the highest benefit in the result. But the theory looks rather idealistic because our decisions very often are irrational and triggered by emotions rather than the rational calculations.

In fact, all people are motivated to make rational choices at least sometimes. Sometimes we allow ourselves to act on a whim and choose impulsively. If pressed for money, we try to maximize the result within the budget we have at hand and make well-considered choices. At such times, our decisions are indeed rational and calculated. But it is rather an exception to the tendency. There is a field of behavioral economics promoting the idea that individuals often make irrational decisions. In such system, people are moved by their emotions and external factors. They make people choose what is not in their best interest, but it also does not mean that an irrational decision equals an impulsive decision.

The rational choice theory makes perfect sense and it is easy to understand, but still, we cannot apply it to the real life at all times. Politics and marketing experts usually appeal to emotions if they want people to make a certain choice. Strong emotions like happiness, fear, or indignation usually take over the human ability to make considerate decisions.