The Power of Distraction: An Experimental Test of Quantum Persuasion

  • Ariane Lambert-MogilianskyEmail author
  • Adrian Calmettes
  • Hervé Gonay
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11690)


Quantum-like decision theory is by now a well-developed field. We here test the predictions of an application of this approach to persuasion as developed by Danilov and Lambert-Mogiliansky in [6]. One remarkable result entails that in contrast to Bayesian predictions, distraction rather than relevant information has a powerful potential to influence decision-making. We conducted an experiment in the context of donations to NGOs active in the protection of endangered species.

We first tested the quantum incompatibility of two perspectives ‘trust’ and ‘urgency’ in a separate experiment. We next recruited 1371 respondents and divided them into three groups: a control group, a first treatment group and the main treatment group. Our main result is that ‘distracting’ information significantly affected decision-making: it induced a switch in respondents’ choice as to which project to support compared with the control group. The first treatment group which was provided with compatible information exhibited no difference compared with the control group. Population variables play no role suggesting that quantum-like indeterminacy may indeed be a basic regularity of the mind. We thus find support for the thesis that the manipulability of people’s decision-making is linked to the quantum indeterminacy of their subjective representations (mental pictures) of the choice alternatives.


Persuasion Distraction Information processing Belief updating Quantum cognition 



We would like to thank Jerome Busemeyer for a very valuable suggestion on the design of the experiment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ariane Lambert-Mogiliansky
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adrian Calmettes
    • 2
  • Hervé Gonay
    • 3
  1. 1.Paris School of EconomicsParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceThe Ohio State UniversityColumbusUSA
  3. 3.GetQuantyParisFrance

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