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June 24, 2014
Wait a Sec...Human Behavior, Predicted?
Social science has always received a downgrading from the "real" sciences out there — physics, math, geometry, etc. — because of the fact that behavior cannot always be precisely measured. No, a mind that deals with mathematics cannot create a formula that predicts the outcome of a civilization. Non-numerable things like living situations, dealings with outside peoples, and common diseases vs. common cures are all factors in how a civilization lives or dies. And forget about how a society co-exists; how norms are created, behaviors that are considered crimes, punishment vs. discipline, and rewards vs. spoil are all elements a "regular" science cannot dispute.

At least in complex terms.

In simple terms, the argument can now be made that prediction can be wildly accurate given that the respondents are all given the exact same information with no elaboration. Yes, scientists were able to discover a pattern of survey responses using quantum theory. The notion the group is donning is called quantum question equality.

As communicators, we have all given really bad and really good surveys. Really good surveys make sure the questions are mixed up so no bias can be developed based on the order of the questions. And, like clockwork, there are differences of opinion based on the order of the questions and the order of the options. Scientists researched this phenomenon, and, using quantum theory, they discovered that the same number of people who switched to the affirmative of a question also switched to the negative of a question. Yes, the net change was zero.

Weird, right? Read the article. We wish that we were making this up.

Of course, once more information was introduced — as in one example — quantum question equality was no longer a factor.

But what does this all mean? Immediately, it's tough to say. To suggest that a specific percentage of people will naturally change their affirmative to negative and vice versa like clockwork is a bold statement to make. Plus, in a monopolistic society where business success depends on differentiation, more information is bound to disrupt the theory. 

However, with a lack of information and equal accessibility to the same amount of limited information, the fact that scientists can use quantum theory to calculate with eerily accurate numbers the change if options are presented differently is both impressive and slightly terrifying.

Something to think about.

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Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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