Is there a difference between the meaning of selfish and self-centered? I have seen some using them identically. If there is a difference who would you like to hang out with: a selfish person or a self-centered person?
These two words have different meanings, not merely different connotations. Part of the question was about whom it would be preferable to spend time with, a selfish person or a self-centered person?
One could be self-centered yet not morally bereft of compassion and generosity. Similarly, a self-centered person might want to further his or her objectives, whether or not that meant behaving selfishly in any given situation.
@Adel's comment is similar to my perception. Specifically, that a selfish person has a strong bias toward not giving anything-- time, money, effort, energy, or other support to anyone other than him or herself. And that seems much more unpleasant than the alternative.
A self-centered person would be inclined toward selfish behavior, but not necessarily so. Being self-centered implies finding oneself more fascinating than anything else. But it doesn't necessarily cause such a person to behave in the stingy, venal way associated with selfishness.
Another way of looking at it is as follows: A self-centered person sees only himself as the centre of everything and does not consider what his actions would mean to others. For e.g. blind people are quite independent and do not really want help from others, unless they ask for it. A self-centered person would reach out to a blind person, catch his hand and help him across the road, not really bothering to find out if that person wanted help in the first place. Only his actions count, he wants the world to think the best of him. He is not bothered about the feelings of the blind man.
A selfish person would not bother to help the blind man in the first place. If he must, it is conditional (whether he has time, is not too inconvenienced, etc.).
A selfish person wants to receive more than they give. They will happily give if they think that their return will be larger than their investment.
A self-centered person needs to be the focus of attention. All eyes must be on them no matter what they're doing, selfish or altruistic.
Although they appear to be similar in meaning, the differences are subtle.
Selfish (of a person, action, or motive) means lacking consideration for others, and/or is concerned chiefly with one's own personal profit or pleasure.
In contrast, self-centered means being preoccupied with oneself and one's affairs.
protected by RegDwigнt♦ Sep 25 '12 at 11:21
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