Dissertations on decision-making: similarity, constructive judgements, morality and social dilemmas

Barque-Duran, A. (2017). Dissertations on decision-making: similarity, constructive judgements, morality and social dilemmas. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)

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The present thesis (mostly) concerns the application of alternative mathematical methods to understand patterns in human cognition and to model them. The different chapters presented in this thesis show research that concerns the application of quantum probability (QP) theory in the modeling of human decision-making. Quantum probability (QP) theory is a theory for how to assign probabilities to events. QP theory can be thought of as the probability rules from quantum mechanics, without any of the physics. This work is not about the application of quantum physics to brain physiology. Rather, we are interested in QP theory as a mathematical framework for cognitive modelling. This theory is potentially relevant in any behavioural situation that involves uncertainty. QP theory is analogous to classical probability theory, though QP theory and classical probability (CP) theory are founded from different sets of axioms (the Kolmogorov and Dirac/von Neumann axioms respectively) and so are subject to alternative constraints. In this thesis we show that especially over the last decade, there has been a growing interest in decision-making and cognitive models using a quantum probabilistic (QP) framework. We see how this development encompasses publications in major journals (see Pothos and Busemeyer, 2013; Wang et al., 2014; and Yearsley and Pothos, 2014; among others), special issues, and dedicated workshops, as well as several comprehensive books (Busemeyer and Bruza, 2012; Khrennikov, 2010; and Haven and Khrennikov, 2010).

However, uncertainty itself is neither ethical nor unethical – yet it is inherent to most situations in which, for instance, moral judgments and decisions have to be made. For a descriptive understanding of judgment and decisions in moral situations, it is an important lesson to acknowledge both the cognitive side (bounded rationality) and the environment (ecological rationality) – and thus the uncertainty of the world and how the mind deals with it. This thesis also shows significant interest in moral and social psychology. Specifically, we consider present technologies that suggest a need for evaluating alternative contexts for ethical decision-making. How the research on human-machine interaction feeds back into humans’ understanding of themselves as moral agents? This key question ultimately relates to the nature of ethical theory itself.

Overall, this dissertation presents and addresses not only standard aspects of decision- making processes, such as similarity judgments (Chapters 1 to 4) or the constructive role of articulating impressions (Chapter 5), but also standard aspects of social psychology, such as moral judgments (Chapters 6 and 7) and game theory (Chapter 8). As stated in the Declarations section, the present thesis is a combination of a standard and a publication- based dissertation.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: School of Social Sciences > Department of Psychology
URI: http://openaccess.city.ac.uk/id/eprint/17404

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