New Empirical Tests of a Quantum Model for Question Order Effects


Recent findings show that human inferences and decisions interfere in ways analogous to incompatible quantum observables, and conceptual judgments are inseparable in ways similar to entangled quantum states. This discovery has led a group of physicists and psychologists to form a new field called “quantum cognition,” which uses mathematical principles of quantum theory to explain human cognitive behavior. The power of this new theoretical approach is illustrated here by testing an a priori and precise prediction derived from quantum theory regarding question order effects commonly observed in survey research. The test of quantum theory was statistically satisfied across a set of 26 national surveys on presidential job approval and country satisfaction in past 10 years. These results suggest that quantum theory, initially invented to explain order effects on measurements in physics, provides a powerful prediction for measurement order effects in social and behavioral sciences too.

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