Context and Interference Effects in the Combinations of Natural Concepts

  • Diederik Aerts
  • Jonito Aerts
  • Lester Beltran
  • Isaac Distrito
  • Massimiliano Sassoli de Bianchi
  • Sandro SozzoEmail author
  • Tomas Veloz
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 10257)


The mathematical formalism of quantum theory exhibits significant effectiveness when applied to cognitive phenomena that have resisted traditional (set theoretical) modeling. Relying on a decade of research on the operational foundations of micro-physical and conceptual entities, we present a theoretical framework for the representation of concepts and their conjunctions and disjunctions that uses the quantum formalism. This framework provides a unified solution to the ‘conceptual combinations problem’ of cognitive psychology, explaining the observed deviations from classical (Boolean, fuzzy set and Kolmogorovian) structures in terms of genuine quantum effects. In particular, natural concepts ‘interfere’ when they combine to form more complex conceptual entities, and they also exhibit a ‘quantum-type context-dependence’, which are responsible of the ‘over- and under-extension’ that are systematically observed in experiments on membership judgments.


Cognitive psychology Concept combination Context effects Interference effects Quantum modeling Quantum structures 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Diederik Aerts
    • 1
  • Jonito Aerts
    • 2
  • Lester Beltran
    • 3
  • Isaac Distrito
    • 4
  • Massimiliano Sassoli de Bianchi
    • 1
    • 5
  • Sandro Sozzo
    • 6
    Email author
  • Tomas Veloz
    • 1
  1. 1.Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies (CLEA)Brussels Free University (VUB)BrusselBelgium
  2. 2.KASK and ConservatoryGhentBelgium
  3. 3.Tondo, ManilaThe Philippines
  4. 4.ManilaThe Philippines
  5. 5.Laboratorio di Autoricerca di BaseLuganoSwitzerland
  6. 6.School of Business and Research Centre IQSCSUniversity of LeicesterLeicesterUK

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