Most behavioural and social experiments aimed at revealing contextuality are confined to cyclic systems with binary outcomes. In quantum physics, this broad class of systems includes as special cases Klyachko–Can–Binicioglu–Shumovsky-type, Einstein–Podolsky–Rosen–Bell-type and Suppes–Zanotti–Leggett–Garg-type systems. The theory of contextuality known as contextuality-by-default allows one to define and measure contextuality in all such systems, even if there are context-dependent errors in measurements, or if something in the contexts directly interacts with the measurements. This makes the theory especially suitable for behavioural and social systems, where direct interactions of ‘everything with everything’ are ubiquitous. For cyclic systems with binary outcomes, the theory provides necessary and sufficient conditions for non-contextuality, and these conditions are known to be breached in certain quantum systems. We review several behavioural and social datasets (from polls of public opinion to visual illusions to conjoint choices to word combinations to psychophysical matching), and none of these data provides any evidence for contextuality. Our working hypothesis is that this may be a broadly applicable rule: behavioural and social systems are non-contextual, i.e. all ‘contextual effects’ in them result from the ubiquitous dependence of response distributions on the elements of contexts other than the ones to which the response is presumably or normatively directed.
One contribution of 14 to a theme issue ‘Quantum probability and the mathematical modelling of decision making’.
- Accepted August 25, 2015.
- © 2015 The Author(s)