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Context effects produced by question orders reveal quantum nature of human judgments

Wang, Zheng, Solloway, Tyler, Shiffrin, Richard M., Busemeyer, Jerome R.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2014 v.111 no.26 pp. 9431-9436
decision making, humans, laboratory experimentation, national surveys, physics, prediction, probability
The hypothesis that human reasoning obeys the laws of quantum rather than classical probability has been used in recent years to explain a variety of seemingly “irrational” judgment and decision-making findings. This article provides independent evidence for this hypothesis based on an a priori prediction, called the quantum question (QQ) equality, concerning the effect of asking attitude questions successively in different orders. We empirically evaluated the predicted QQ equality using 70 national representative surveys and two laboratory experiments that manipulated question orders. Each national study contained 651–3,006 participants. The results provided strong support for the predicted QQ equality. These findings suggest that quantum probability theory, initially invented to explain noncommutativity of measurements in physics, provides a simple account for a surprising regularity regarding measurement order effects in social and behavioral science.