International Journal of Theoretical Physics

, Volume 49, Issue 12, pp 2971–2990 | Cite as

Quantum Experimental Data in Psychology and Economics



We prove a theorem which shows that a collection of experimental data of probabilistic weights related to decisions with respect to situations and their disjunction cannot be modeled within a classical probabilistic weight structure in case the experimental data contain the effect referred to as the ‘disjunction effect’ in psychology. We identify different experimental situations in psychology, more specifically in concept theory and in decision theory, and in economics (namely situations where Savage’s Sure-Thing Principle is violated) where the disjunction effect appears and we point out the common nature of the effect. We analyze how our theorem constitutes a no-go theorem for classical probabilistic weight structures for common experimental data when the disjunction effect is affecting the values of these data. We put forward a simple geometric criterion that reveals the non classicality of the considered probabilistic weights and we illustrate our geometrical criterion by means of experimentally measured membership weights of items with respect to pairs of concepts and their disjunctions. The violation of the classical probabilistic weight structure is very analogous to the violation of the well-known Bell inequalities studied in quantum mechanics. The no-go theorem we prove in the present article with respect to the collection of experimental data we consider has a status analogous to the well known no-go theorems for hidden variable theories in quantum mechanics with respect to experimental data obtained in quantum laboratories. Our analysis puts forward a strong argument in favor of the validity of using the quantum formalism for modeling the considered psychological experimental data as considered in this paper.


Bell inequalities Polytopes Disjunction effect 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diederik Aerts
    • 1
  • Bart D’Hooghe
    • 1
  • Emmanuel Haven
    • 2
  1. 1.Leo Apostel Center for Interdisciplinary StudiesBrussels Free UniversityBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.School of ManagementUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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