Selectivity in Probabilistic Causality: Where Psychology Runs Into Quantum Physics
Abstract
Given a set of several inputs into a system (e.g., independent variables characterizing stimuli) and a set of several stochastically nonindependent outputs (e.g., random variables describing different aspects of responses), how can one determine, for each of the outputs, which of the inputs it is influenced by? The problem has applications ranging from modeling pairwise comparisons to reconstructing mental processing architectures to conjoint testing. A necessary and sufficient condition for a given pattern of selective influences is provided by the Joint Distribution Criterion, according to which the problem of "what influences what" is equivalent to that of the existence of a joint distribution for a certain set of random variables. For inputs and outputs with finite sets of values this criterion translates into a test of consistency of a certain system of linear equations and inequalities (Linear Feasibility Test) which can be performed by means of linear programming. While new in the behavioral context, both this test and the Joint Distribution Criterion on which it is based have been previously proposed in quantum physics, in dealing with generalizations of Bell inequalities for the quantum entanglement problem. The parallels between this problem and that of selective influences in behavioral sciences is established by observing that noncommuting measurements in quantum physics are mutually exclusive and can therefore be treated as different levels of one and the same factor.
 Publication:

arXiv eprints
 Pub Date:
 October 2011
 arXiv:
 arXiv:1110.2388
 Bibcode:
 2011arXiv1110.2388D
 Keywords:

 Physics  Data Analysis;
 Statistics and Probability;
 Mathematics  Statistics Theory;
 Quantitative Biology  Quantitative Methods;
 Quantum Physics;
 81P05 (Primary);
 91E99 (Secondary)
 EPrint:
 12 pages