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Selfish vs. Selfless: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Published on December 30, 2023
Selfish behavior prioritizes one's own needs and desires often at the expense of others, while selfless actions put the needs and well-being of others first.

Key Differences

Selfish behavior is driven by self-interest and personal gain, whereas selfless actions are motivated by the welfare of others, often disregarding one's own needs.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023
Selfishness can strain or damage relationships due to a lack of consideration for others, while selflessness often strengthens bonds through empathy and altruism.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023
In selfishness, decisions are made based on what benefits one personally, whereas selfless choices are made with the intention of benefiting others.
Huma Saeed
Dec 30, 2023
Selfish actions may lead to short-term gain but can result in long-term negative consequences, whereas selflessness can foster community, cooperation, and positive social relationships.
Harlon Moss
Dec 30, 2023
Selfish behavior is generally viewed negatively in society, contributing to conflict and inequality, while selflessness is seen positively, promoting harmony and understanding.
Harlon Moss
Dec 30, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Primary Concern

Own needs and desires
Needs and well-being of others
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

Impact on Relationships

Often detrimental, leading to conflict
Typically positive, fostering empathy
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

Decision Criteria

Personal gain and benefit
Welfare of others, often sacrificing own needs
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

Societal Perception

Generally viewed negatively
Viewed positively, associated with altruism
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

Long-term Effects

Can lead to isolation and resentment
Encourages cooperation and communal harmony
Harlon Moss
Dec 30, 2023
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Selfish and Selfless Definitions

Selfish

Acting to increase one's own welfare or advantage.
She was known for her selfish habit of always putting her needs first.
Janet White
Dec 08, 2023

Selfless

Characterized by altruism; unselfishly generous or concerned for others.
The firefighter's selfless bravery saved many lives.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 08, 2023

Selfish

Lacking consideration for others.
Her selfish attitude made it difficult for her to make friends.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 08, 2023

Selfless

Exhibiting a lack of selfishness.
In a selfless act, she shared her lunch with a hungry classmate.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 08, 2023

Selfish

Concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself.
He was criticized for his selfish decision to take the largest slice of cake.
Janet White
Dec 08, 2023

Selfless

Having little or no concern for oneself, especially with regard to fame, position, money, etc.
Her selfless volunteer work inspired everyone around her.
Huma Saeed
Dec 08, 2023

Selfish

Marked by an absence of concern for the welfare of others.
His selfish behavior at work alienated his colleagues.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 08, 2023

Selfless

Putting the needs and happiness of others before one's own.
He made a selfless decision to donate his bonus to charity.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 08, 2023

Selfish

Prioritizing one's own needs over the well-being of others.
He selfishly refused to share his resources with those in need.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 08, 2023

Selfless

Acting without regard to one's personal gain or benefit.
She showed selfless dedication to the cause, never asking for recognition.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 08, 2023

Selfish

Concerned chiefly or excessively with oneself, and having little regard for others
A selfish child who wouldn't share toys.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfless

Having, exhibiting, or motivated by no concern for oneself; unselfish
A selfless act of charity.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfish

Showing or arising from an excessive concern with oneself and a lack of concern for others
A selfish whim.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfless

Having, exhibiting or motivated by no concern for oneself but for others; unselfish.
In a selfless act of gratitude for saving his mother's life, Peter committed to giving money to his local breast cancer charity each year for the rest of his life.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfish

The present quote doesn't illustrate the meaning very well.Holding one's own self-interest as the standard for decision making.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfless

Having no regard to self; unselfish.
Lo now, what hearts have men! they never mountAs high as woman in her selfless mood.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfish

Having regard for oneself above others’ well-being.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfless

Showing unselfish concern for the welfare of others
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfish

(video game characters) Relying on their own actions and capabilities to be effective in the game, rather than on other characters.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfish

Caring supremely or unduly for one's self; regarding one's own comfort, advantage, etc., in disregard, or at the expense, of those of others.
They judge of things according to their own private appetites and selfish passions.
In that throng of selfish hearts untrue.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfish

Believing or teaching that the chief motives of human action are derived from love of self.
Hobbes and the selfish school of philosophers.
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

Selfish

Concerned chiefly or only with yourself;
Selfish men were...trying to make capital for themselves out of the sacred cause of civil rights
Sawaira Riaz
Nov 29, 2023

FAQs

Can people change from being selfish to selfless?

Yes, with self-awareness and effort, people can adopt more selfless behaviors.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

Can selfish behavior be justified?

In some cases, prioritizing oneself can be necessary, but excessive selfishness is generally discouraged.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

Does society value selflessness?

Generally, society views selflessness positively as it promotes cooperation and empathy.
Harlon Moss
Dec 30, 2023

How does selfishness affect mental health?

Selfishness can lead to isolation and strained relationships, impacting mental well-being.
Harlon Moss
Dec 30, 2023

Is selflessness always a good trait?

While often positive, extreme selflessness can lead to neglecting one's own needs.
Huma Saeed
Dec 30, 2023

Is it possible to be too selfless?

Excessive selflessness can sometimes result in personal detriment or being taken advantage of.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 30, 2023

Are there benefits to being selfish?

In moderation, prioritizing one's own needs can be important for self-care and personal growth.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

How can one become more selfless?

Practicing empathy, volunteering, and considering the needs of others can foster selflessness.
Janet White
Dec 30, 2023

Can selflessness be harmful in professional settings?

Overly selfless behavior might lead to being overlooked or overburdened at work.
Aimie Carlson
Dec 30, 2023

Can selflessness be taught?

Yes, through empathy and understanding the impact of actions on others, selflessness can be nurtured.
Harlon Moss
Dec 30, 2023

Does culture influence selfish or selfless behavior?

Yes, cultural values and societal norms can impact the prevalence of these behaviors.
Janet White
Dec 30, 2023

Are children naturally selfish?

Children are often self-focused but can be taught the value of sharing and empathy.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

Is selfishness a natural human trait?

To some extent, self-preservation is natural, but excessive selfishness is not typically innate.
Harlon Moss
Dec 30, 2023

Is altruism the same as selflessness?

Altruism is a form of selflessness, involving self-sacrificing behavior for others' benefit.
Janet White
Dec 30, 2023

How do selfless acts benefit the doer?

Selfless acts can bring personal satisfaction, happiness, and a sense of purpose.
Janet White
Dec 30, 2023

Can selfish people be good leaders?

While leadership requires some self-interest, excessive selfishness can hinder effective leadership.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

Do animals exhibit selfish or selfless behaviors?

Animals can display both, often driven by survival instincts or social bonding.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

How does selflessness affect personal growth?

Selflessness can lead to personal growth through empathy, understanding, and meaningful connections.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023

What are the signs of a selfish person?

A lack of empathy, prioritizing personal gain, and disregard for others' feelings indicate selfishness.
Harlon Moss
Dec 30, 2023

Can selflessness improve relationships?

Yes, selfless actions often strengthen relationships through trust and mutual respect.
Sawaira Riaz
Dec 30, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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