The Public Interest

On the ecology of micromotives

Thomas C. Schelling

Fall 1971

THE man who invented traffic signals, if there was such a man, had a genius for simplicity. He saw that where two streets intersected there was confusion and lost time because people got in each other’s way; and he discovered, probably by personal experience, that self-discipline and good will among travelers was not enough to straighten them out. Even the courteous lost time waiting for each other, and some who mistakenly thought it was their turn suffered collision.

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