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Bridging the gap between subjective probability and probability judgments: the Quantum Sequential Sampler

Huang, J., Busemeyer, J., Ebelt, Z. & Pothos, E. ORCID: 0000-0003-1919-387X (2024). Bridging the gap between subjective probability and probability judgments: the Quantum Sequential Sampler. Psychological Review,


One of the most important challenges in decision theory has been how to reconcile the normative expectations from Bayesian theory with the apparent fallacies that are common in probabilistic reasoning. Recently, Bayesian models have been driven by the insight that apparent fallacies are due to sampling errors or biases in estimating (Bayesian) probabilities. An alternative way to explain apparent fallacies is by invoking different probability rules, specifically the probability rules from quantum theory. Arguably, quantum cognitive models offer a more unified explanation for a large body of findings, problematic from a baseline classical perspective. This work addresses two major corresponding theoretical challenges: first, a framework is needed which incorporates both Bayesian and quantum influences, recognizing the fact that there is evidence for both in human behavior. Second, there is empirical evidence which goes beyond any current Bayesian and quantum model. We develop a model for probabilistic reasoning, seamlessly integrating both Bayesian and quantum models of reasoning and augmented by a sequential sampling process, which maps subjective probabilistic estimates to observable responses. Our model, called the Quantum Sequential Sampler, is compared to the currently leading Bayesian model, the Bayesian Sampler (Zhu, Sanborn, & Chater, 2020) using a new experiment, producing one of the largest datasets in probabilistic reasoning to this day. The Quantum Sequential Sampler embodies several new components, which we argue offer a more theoretically accurate approach to probabilistic reasoning. Moreover, our empirical tests revealed a new, surprising systematic overestimation of probabilities.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: ©American Psychological Association, [2024]. This paper is not the copy of record and may not exactly replicate the authoritative document published in the APA journal. The final article is available, upon publication, at:
Publisher Keywords: Probabilistic Reasoning; Sequential Sampling; Quantum Cognition; Bayesian; Probabilistic Fallacies
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HA Statistics
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
SWORD Depositor:
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