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Zeno’s paradox in decision making

Yearsley, J. & Pothos, E. M. (2016). Zeno’s paradox in decision making. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 283(1828), 0.20160291. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2016.0291


Classical probability theory has been influential in modeling decision processes, despite empirical findings that have been persistently paradoxical from classical perspectives. For such findings, some researchers have been successfully pursuing decision models based on quantum theory. One unique feature of quantum theory is the collapse postulate, which entails that measurements (or in decision making, judgments) reset the state to be consistent with the measured outcome. If there is quantum structure in cognition, then there has to be evidence for the collapse postulate. A striking, a priori prediction, is that opinion change will be slowed down (under idealized conditions frozen) by continuous judgments. In physics, this is the quantum Zeno effect. We demonstrate a quantum Zeno effect in decision making in humans and so provide evidence that advocates the use of quantum principles in decision theory, at least in some cases.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Copyright The Royal Society, 2016.
Publisher Keywords: Decision making, opinion change, constructive influences, quantum theory
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
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