Journal article

A quantum theoretical explanation for probability judgment errors.

Busemeyer J, Pothos E, Franco R, Trueblood J ...see all

Psychological Review, vol. 118, issue 2 (2011) pp. 193-218

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A quantum probability model is introduced and used to explain human probability judgment errors including the conjunction and disjunction fallacies, averaging effects, unpacking effects, and order effects on inference. On the one hand, quantum theory is similar to other categorization and memory models of cognition in that it relies on vector spaces defined by features and similarities between vectors to determine probability judgments. On the other hand, quantum probability theory is a generalization of Bayesian probability theory because it is based on a set of (von Neumann) axioms that relax some of the classic (Kolmogorov) axioms. The quantum model is compared and contrasted with other competing explanations for these judgment errors, including the anchoring and adjustment model for probability judgments. In the quantum model, a new fundamental concept in cognition is advanced--the compatibility versus incompatibility of questions and the effect this can have on the sequential order of judgments. We conclude that quantum information-processing principles provide a viable and promising new way to understand human judgment and reasoning.

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  • Jerome R. Busemeyer

  • Emmanuel M. Pothos

  • Riccardo Franco

  • Jennifer S. Trueblood

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