Document Type



Mathematics (HMC)

Publication Date



Many behaviors have been attributed to internal conflict within the animal and human mind. However, internal conflict has not been reconciled with evolutionary principles, in that it appears maladaptive relative to a seamless decision-making process. We study this problem through a mathematical analysis of decision-making structures. We find that, under natural physiological limitations, an optimal decision-making system can involve “selfish” agents that are in conflict with one another, even though the system is designed for a single purpose. It follows that conflict can emerge within a collective even when natural selection acts on the level of the collective only.


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Rights Information

© 2006 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences