Self-Centered vs. Selfish

What's the Difference?

Self-centered and selfish are two terms often used interchangeably, but they have distinct meanings. Self-centered refers to someone who is primarily focused on themselves and their own needs, often lacking consideration for others. They may have a tendency to prioritize their own desires and interests above those of others. On the other hand, selfish refers to someone who is excessively concerned with their own well-being and personal gain, often at the expense of others. They may display a lack of empathy and disregard for the needs and feelings of others. While both terms involve a certain level of self-focus, selfishness implies a more extreme and self-serving behavior compared to self-centeredness.


DefinitionConcerned primarily with one's own interests or needs.Having or showing a lack of concern for the needs or feelings of others; concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.
FocusPrimarily focused on oneself.Primarily focused on personal gain or benefit.
BehaviorMay exhibit self-centered behavior by constantly talking about oneself, seeking attention, and disregarding others' needs.May exhibit selfish behavior by prioritizing personal interests, manipulating others for personal gain, and disregarding the well-being of others.
EmpathyMay lack empathy towards others and struggle to understand or consider their feelings.May lack empathy towards others and prioritize personal needs over the well-being of others.
RelationshipsMay have difficulty maintaining healthy relationships due to a lack of consideration for others.May strain relationships due to a focus on personal gain and disregard for others' needs.
Impact on OthersMay unintentionally hurt others by not considering their feelings or needs.May intentionally or unintentionally harm others by prioritizing personal gain over their well-being.

Further Detail


When it comes to understanding human behavior, it is important to differentiate between being self-centered and being selfish. While these two terms are often used interchangeably, they have distinct meanings and implications. Both self-centeredness and selfishness revolve around an individual's focus on themselves, but the motivations and consequences of these behaviors differ significantly. In this article, we will explore the attributes of self-centeredness and selfishness, highlighting their differences and shedding light on the impact they have on individuals and their relationships.


Self-centeredness refers to a personality trait where an individual primarily focuses on their own needs, desires, and interests. People who are self-centered tend to prioritize themselves above others and may exhibit a lack of empathy or consideration for those around them. They often seek attention, validation, and recognition for their achievements or actions, often at the expense of others. Self-centered individuals may have difficulty understanding or acknowledging the perspectives and feelings of others, as their own needs take precedence.

One of the key attributes of self-centeredness is a sense of entitlement. Self-centered individuals may believe that they deserve special treatment or privileges simply because they consider themselves to be more important than others. This entitlement can lead to a disregard for the feelings or needs of those around them, as they prioritize their own desires above all else.

Furthermore, self-centeredness can manifest in various ways, such as dominating conversations, seeking constant attention, or expecting others to cater to their needs. These behaviors can strain relationships and create a sense of imbalance, as self-centered individuals may struggle to reciprocate the care and support they receive from others.

It is important to note that self-centeredness is not always driven by malicious intent. Some individuals may develop self-centered tendencies as a result of their upbringing, environment, or personal experiences. However, regardless of the underlying reasons, self-centeredness can still have negative consequences for both the individual and those around them.


While self-centeredness revolves around a focus on oneself, selfishness takes this behavior a step further by actively prioritizing one's own needs and desires at the expense of others. Selfish individuals are primarily concerned with their own well-being and are willing to disregard the needs and feelings of others to achieve their goals or fulfill their desires.

Unlike self-centeredness, selfishness often involves a deliberate choice to put oneself first, even when it may harm or inconvenience others. Selfish individuals may manipulate or exploit others to achieve their own ends, showing little regard for the impact their actions have on those around them.

One of the key attributes of selfishness is a lack of empathy. Selfish individuals may struggle to understand or relate to the emotions and experiences of others, as their primary focus is on their own satisfaction. This lack of empathy can lead to strained relationships, as selfish individuals may be unwilling or unable to provide the support and understanding that others may need.

Furthermore, selfishness often stems from a deep-seated sense of self-importance and a desire for personal gain. Selfish individuals may be driven by a need for power, control, or material possessions, often at the expense of the well-being of others. This can create a toxic dynamic in relationships, as the needs and desires of others are consistently disregarded or devalued.

It is important to recognize that selfishness is a choice, and individuals who exhibit selfish behavior are accountable for their actions. While some may argue that self-interest is necessary for personal growth and success, it is crucial to strike a balance between self-care and consideration for others to maintain healthy relationships and a harmonious society.

Differences and Impact

While self-centeredness and selfishness share a common focus on oneself, there are distinct differences in their attributes and impact on individuals and relationships. Self-centeredness often stems from a lack of awareness or consideration for others, whereas selfishness involves a deliberate choice to prioritize oneself at the expense of others.

The impact of self-centeredness is primarily felt in the form of strained relationships and a lack of emotional connection. Self-centered individuals may struggle to form deep and meaningful connections with others, as their focus on themselves limits their ability to empathize and understand the needs of those around them. This can lead to feelings of isolation and frustration for both the self-centered individual and their loved ones.

On the other hand, the impact of selfishness extends beyond strained relationships and can have broader societal implications. Selfish individuals may engage in manipulative or exploitative behaviors, causing harm to others and perpetuating a cycle of mistrust and negativity. In extreme cases, selfishness can lead to the erosion of social values and the breakdown of communities, as individuals prioritize their own interests above the collective well-being.

It is worth noting that both self-centeredness and selfishness can be detrimental to personal growth and happiness. By excessively focusing on oneself, individuals may miss out on opportunities for personal development, learning, and the fulfillment that comes from nurturing meaningful relationships. Both self-centeredness and selfishness can hinder personal and interpersonal growth, limiting one's ability to connect with others and find true fulfillment.


In conclusion, self-centeredness and selfishness may share a common focus on oneself, but they differ in their attributes and impact. Self-centeredness often arises from a lack of awareness or consideration for others, while selfishness involves a deliberate choice to prioritize oneself at the expense of others. Self-centered individuals may struggle with empathy and maintaining meaningful relationships, while selfish individuals actively disregard the needs and feelings of others to fulfill their own desires.

Understanding the distinctions between self-centeredness and selfishness is crucial for personal growth and fostering healthy relationships. By cultivating empathy, self-awareness, and a balance between self-care and consideration for others, individuals can strive to overcome self-centered tendencies and avoid falling into the trap of selfish behavior. Ultimately, by embracing empathy and compassion, we can create a more harmonious and interconnected world.

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