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Decision Making and Rational Choice



The aim of this course is to introduce students to the rational choice approach to understanding collective decision making. Rational choice theory is based on a simple set of assumptions and an analytical method that, when applied rigorously, has produced revolutionary insights about public life and has changed the way we think about collective action, political and economic institutions, policy making and international relations. The course will present the basics of rational choice theory and some of its applications for the analysis of voting, co-operation, and institutional design and effects. Students will learn the necessary skills to apply the theory in their own research.

Course objectives

  • to introduce the students to the logic of rational choice analysis of collective decision making

  • to provide skills for a critical analysis of political decision making

  • to present some of the major accomplishments of rational choice theory for explaining the effects of different voting arrangements, the effect of legislative institutions, the logic of coalition formation, and other decision-making processes in the public sector.


  • Lectures: Thursday 7/2 t/m 21/3 from 15-17 hrs in Gorl.03 except for 14/3 and 21/3 in FSW, 1A20

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Assignments and final paper.

Reading list/Literature

  • Shepsle, Kenneth A. and Mark S. Bonchek (1997) Analyzing Politics: Rationality, Behavior, and Institutions. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company.

  • Shepsle, Kenneth A (2010) Analyzing Politics: Rationality, Behavior, and Institutions. 2nd edition. New York and London: W.W. Norton & Company.


Instructor uses Blackboard.



Contact information

Dr. R. de Ruiter