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"Phishing For (quantum-like) Phools" Theory and experimental evidence

Ariane Lambert-Mogiliansky and Adrian Calmettes
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Ariane Lambert-Mogiliansky: PJSE - Paris-Jourdan Sciences Economiques - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique - ENPC - École des Ponts ParisTech - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - ENS Paris - École normale supérieure - Paris, PSE - Paris School of Economics
Adrian Calmettes: SSSUP - Scuola Universitaria Superiore Sant'Anna - Istituto di Tecnologie della Comunicazione, dell'Informazione e della Percezione (Istituto TeCIP)

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Abstract: Quantum-like decision theory is by now a theoretically well-developed field (see e.g., Danilov et al. 2018A). We here test the predictions of an application of this approach to persuasion. One remarkable result entails that in contrast to Bayesian persuasion, distraction rather than relevant information has a powerful potential to influence decision-making. We first provide a quantum decision model for a choice between two uncertain alternatives. We derive the impact of persuasion by means of distractive questions and contrast them with the predictions of the Bayesian model. Next, we conduct an experiment where respondents choose between supporting either one of two projects to save endangered species. We test the impact of persuasion in the form of questions related to different aspects of the uncertain value of the two projects. The experiment involves 900 respondents divided into three groups: a control group, a first treatment group and the distraction treatment group. Our main result is that, in accordance with the predictions of quantum persuasion but in violation with the Bayesian model, distraction significantly affects decision-making. Population variables play no role. Some significant variations between subgroups are exhibited and discussed. The results of the experiment provide support for the hypothesis that the manipulability of people's decision-making can be explained by the quantum indeterminacy of their subjective representations of reality.

New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-exp
Date: 2019-06
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