In classical economics, a potential offender is treated as a rational agent that seeks to maximize the expected utility when deciding whether to commit a crime. Therefore, if the perceived threat of legal punishment outweights the gains from the crime action, then the offender is deterred. However, in reality, there are complex behavioral traits governing the risk perception of each individual that deviate from rationality. These effects need to be captured in order to construct a general model of deterrence.

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