Temporal oscillations in preference strength provide evidence for a quantum-Markov open system model of preference evolution
Busemeyer, Jerome R.
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We examined how preferences evolve across time in two new experiments, one using choices between restaurants and a second using choices between gambles. In both we observed that mean preference strength systematically oscillated over time and found that eliciting a choice early in time strongly affected the pattern of preference oscillation later in time. Preferences following choices oscillated between being stronger than those without prior choice and being weaker than those without choice. Markov processes, such as random walk models, have been successfully used by cognitive and neural scientists to model human choice behavior and decision time for over 50 years. Recently, quantum walk models have been introduced as an alternative way to model the dynamics of human choice and confidence across time. Our new findings point to the need for both types of processes, and what are called “open system” models provide a way to incorporate them both into a single process. The open system model incorporates two sources of uncertainty: epistemic uncertainty about what preference state a decision maker has at a particular point in time; and ontic uncertainty about what decision or judgment will be observed when a person has some preference state. Representing these two sources of uncertainty allows the model to account for the oscillations in preference as well as the effect of choice on preference formation.