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date: 08 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Consequentialist theories of criminal decision making assume crime is a choice that one undertakes if the perceived benefits of the act outweigh its costs. This a priori assessment of costs and benefits involves the use of several neurological components, including the amygdala–striatal system and the prefrontal cortex. Crime is commonly committed by individuals under the influence of alcohol and/or experiencing heightened states of emotional arousal. Both alcohol and arousal impact neurological functioning, including that of the amygdala–striatal system and prefrontal cortex. This chapter examines the influence of alcohol and arousal on criminal decision making from a neuroeconomic perspective. It discusses the neurological effects that alcohol and arousal may have on the identification and evaluation of criminal consequences. These effects bound one’s rationality and increase the likelihood of criminal/aggressive behavior. Empirical research on alcohol, arousal, and criminal decision making is summarized, and suggestions for future research are presented.

Keywords: alcohol, emotional arousal, amygdala–striatal system, prefrontal cortex, criminal decision making

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