I am trying to describe the following kind of person/personality:

He who cares only about doing beneficial (or useful) things. Before any decision is made, he asks a question like "Will it definitely generate some practical benefits?" For example, before he chooses a subject to study, he needs to see first if the subject can lead to any good job, not subjects like pure mathematics or theoretical physics. Interest and curiosity are not the driving force.

His happiness comes more from his (material or physical) need being satisfied, not metaphysical needs like curiosity being sated.

How can I describe this "benefit-pursuing" personality? Is utilitarianism a right word? Is pragmatism a right word?

  • 1
    I'd say he's a wise man. He does not waste his time. He thinks before he leaps. – NVZ Jun 24 '17 at 12:22
  • The question must be analyze one step further. Beneficial to whom? To self or other. If it is self, prudential might fit. If to other, altruistic? Mutually beneficial seems more pragmatic. – brucesmith Jun 24 '17 at 13:03
  • Your words are okay, but much depends on the impression you wish to convey and perhaps also on your readership. I'm not sure "utilitarian" would be understood by many. If you want to convey a negative impression, one option is mercenary. – Steve Lovell Jun 24 '17 at 14:29
  • @SteveLovell Thanks! That's a good word, yes, I do want to convey some negative impression. – Yangxin Zhang Jun 24 '17 at 14:49
  • I like the word "pragmatic" for what you describe. It is fairly positive although might indicate some short comings when it comes to "being a dreamer" – Tom22 Jun 25 '17 at 0:25

Converting my comment to an answer:

Mercenary adjective
working or acting merely for money or other reward; venal.


Based on your description "his happiness comes more from his (material or physical) need is satisfied, not the metaphysical needs" I would suggest

Materialist [noun] 1. a person who is markedly more concerned with material things than with spiritual, intellectual, or cultural values. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/materialist

Other options are 'self-serving', 'businesslike' and 'practical' (adjectives) in addition to your own choices 'pragmatic' (adj) / 'pragmatist' (noun) and 'utilitarian' (adj/noun) which also fit your case.


Pragmatic [prag-mat-ik] /adjective

  1. of or relating to a practical point of view or practical considerations.

Source: Dictionary.com


Practical [prak-ti-kuh l] /adjective

  1. of or relating to practice or action.

  2. consisting of, involving, or resulting from practice or action.

  3. of, relating to, or concerned with ordinary activities, business, or work.

  4. adapted or designed for actual use; useful.

  5. engaged or experienced in actual practice or work.

  6. inclined toward or fitted for actual work or useful activities.

  7. mindful of the results, usefulness, advantages or disadvantages, etc., of action or procedure.

Source: Dictionary.com


Rigid [rij-id] adjective

  1. stiff or unyielding; not pliant or flexible; hard.

  2. firmly fixed or set.

  3. inflexible, strict, or severe.

Rigid is also used as an idiom that refers a person's personality. One part of this description may be an unappreciation of the intangible. A rigid person may lack imagination and may not appreciate things that are not readily delineable.

protected by tchrist Jun 24 '17 at 19:27

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