Paradoxical as it may seem, humans are wired to be both selfish and selfless. As is evident in the world around us, selfishness usually wins when it comes head-to-head with selflessness. This shows that humans have a stronger drive to be selfish than cooperative.
Humans will often only help others if, by doing that, they can help themselves. Such reciprocal relationships (‘I scratch your back and you scratch mine’) are a dominant feature of human relationships.
The downside of selfishness
The problem with selfishness is that it can make one likely to harm another for personal gain. Also, selfishness comes in the way of thinking win-win. Pure selfishness is win-lose thinking.
Often, thinking win-win can ultimately help us gain more than thinking win-lose.
A selfish person who doesn’t help others can’t expect any favors from others. A selfish person who harms others through lying, deceiving, and stealing gets punished by a society whose fabric is held together by cooperation.
Who’s a selfish person?
Selfishness is complicated. It’s often difficult to tell whether or not you’re being selfish and that’s understandable.
Sometimes, you have to prioritize your own needs. Sometimes, you have to prioritize others’ needs. It all boils down to who needs the most help in a given situation.
A person is selfish when they meet their needs at the expense of others- when they harm others for personal gain. Not helping someone even though helping them would cost you little is also a strong sign of selfishness.
The more reciprocity there is in a relationship, the more likely you are to commit selfless of high personal costs.
Taking the ‘Am I selfish?’ quiz
This quiz consists of 15 items with five options ranging from Strongly agree to Strongly disagree. Answer each item based on what applies to you the most. The quiz takes less than 3 minutes to complete and is entirely anonymous. Your results are neither stored nor shared with anyone.