Is being "self-serving" the same as being "self-centered"? While looking for an answer to this question, I saw this previous question on the difference between "selfish" and "self-centered". I generally agree with the top three answers in that question (i.e. the answers provided by @FeralOink @Bill and @mozen), but want to know if and how "self-serving" differs from "self-centered."

Are the connotations or actual meanings different, or are the words essentially interchangeable? I think "self-serving" implies something about purpose, while "self-centered" implies something about focus, but I am not sure, and I have not been able to flesh out the difference in a satisfying way.

closed as off-topic by FumbleFingers, Kristina Lopez, RyeɃreḁd, choster, tchrist Apr 24 '14 at 22:07

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  • 3
    A self-centred person usually means someone who is excessively preoccupied with their own concerns, but that doesn't imply they actually have the good judgement (or indeed, ability) to act in ways that serve their own best interests. Self-centredness may be at the root of behavioural problems leading to anorexia or self-harm, for example - but few would say these are self-serving behaviours. – FumbleFingers Apr 22 '14 at 16:03

Here's what jumps out in my mind:

A self-centered person thinks about himself a lot, and possible talks about himself a lot. He/she may have a hard time relating to other people and being empathetic.

A self-serving person continuously does things that helps himself, possibly at the expense of others. For example a self-serving politician will do anything to get elected.