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A quantum probability explanation for violations of "rational" decision theory

Pothos, E. M. and Busemeyer, J. R. (2009). A quantum probability explanation for violations of "rational" decision theory. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 276(1665), pp. 2171-2178. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2009.0121


Two experimental tasks in psychology, the two-stage gambling game and the Prisoner's Dilemma game, show that people violate the sure thing principle of decision theory. These paradoxical findings have resisted explanation by classical decision theory for over a decade. A quantum probability model, based on a Hilbert space representation and Schrödinger's equation, provides a simple and elegant explanation for this behaviour. The quantum model is compared with an equivalent Markov model and it is shown that the latter is unable to account for violations of the sure thing principle. Accordingly, it is argued that quantum probability provides a better framework for modelling human decision-making.

Publication Type: Article
Publisher Keywords: Prisoner's Dilemma; quantum probability; decision-making; cognitive science
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Q Science > QA Mathematics
Departments: School of Arts & Social Sciences > Psychology
Date available in CRO: 17 Dec 2012 11:55
Date of first online publication: 2009
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