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Maternal and paternal genes have a common interest in the effective functioning of the individual actor, but phenotypes that are determined by agents with different fitness functions are not expected to show the degree of integration and physiological efficiency one would expect of a phenotype determined by agents with identical interests. Perhaps such internal conflicts can partially account for inefficiencies of mental function and a high frequency of pathology in human social interactions.


The paper has benefited from the comments of Bernard Crespi, Edgar Dueñez-Guzman, Sarah Hrdy, Karen Kramer, David Queller, Stephen Stearns, Robert Trivers, and two anonymous reviewers. The work was supported by a Collaborative Innovation Award from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute to Catherine Dulac.

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