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Selfishness denotes the precedence given in thought or deed to the self, i.e., self interest or self concern. It is the act of placing one's own needs or desires above the needs or desires of others.

Psychologist and primatologist Frans de Waal takes issue with those who equate "selfishness" with "self-serving." He argues that "Selfishness implies the intention to serve oneself, hence knowledge of what one stands to gain from a particular behavior".[1] (2009, 13).

Selfishness is the opposite of altruism (selflessness).

The implications of selfishness have inspired divergent views within religious, philosophical, psychological, economic and evolutionary contexts.


  1. ^ de Waal, Frans (2009). Primates and Philosophers: How Morality Evolved. Princeton University Press. pp. 13. ISBN 978-0-691-14129-9. 

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