International Journal of Theoretical Physics

, Volume 54, Issue 12, pp 4430–4443

The Quantum Nature of Identity in Human Thought: Bose-Einstein Statistics for Conceptual Indistinguishability


DOI: 10.1007/s10773-015-2620-4

Cite this article as:
Aerts, D., Sozzo, S. & Veloz, T. Int J Theor Phys (2015) 54: 4430. doi:10.1007/s10773-015-2620-4


Increasing experimental evidence shows that humans combine concepts in a way that violates the rules of classical logic and probability theory. On the other hand, mathematical models inspired by the formalism of quantum theory are in accordance with data on concepts and their combinations. In this paper, we investigate a new connection between concepts and quantum entities, namely the way both behave with respect to ‘identity’ and ‘indistinguishability’. We do this by considering conceptual entities of the type Eleven Animals, were a number is combined with a noun. In the combination Eleven Animals, indeed the ‘animals’ are identical and indistinguishable, and our investigation aims at identifying the nature of this conceptual identity and indistinguishability. We perform experiments on human subjects and find significant evidence of deviation from the predictions of classical statistical theories, more specifically deviations with respect to Maxwell-Boltzmann statistics. This deviation is of the ‘same type’ of the deviation of quantum mechanical from classical mechanical statistics, due to indistinguishability of microscopic quantum particles, i.e we find convincing evidence of the presence of Bose-Einstein statistics. We also present preliminary promising evidence of this phenomenon in a web-based study.


Indistinguishability Quantum statistics Conceptual identity Quantum cognition 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies (Clea)VUB University of BrusselsBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.School of Management and IQSCSUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK
  3. 3.Mathematics DepartmentsUniversity of British Columbia Okanagan CampusKelownaCanada
  4. 4.Instituto de Filosofía y Ciencias de la Complejidad (IFICC)SantiagoChile