Assumptions of Rational Choice Theory

  1. Humans are purposive and goal oriented.

  2. Humans have sets of hierarchically ordered preferences, or utilities.

  3. In choosing lines of behavior, humans make rational calculations with respect to:

  4. Emergent social phenomena -- social structures, collective decisions, and collective behavior -- are ultimately the result of rational choices made by utility-maximizing individuals.

  5. Emergent social phenomena that arise from rational choices constitute a set of parameters for subsequent rational choices of individuals in the sense that they determine:

(Jonathan Turner 1991, The Structure of Sociological Theory, p. 354)