Narcissistic, selfish, self-centered

Who is more problematic, the narcissist or the egocentric? Beyond what we can believe they are not the same. There are nuances that differentiate them and that it is necessary to know. We explain it to you.

Narcissistic, selfish, self-centered... Often, we confuse them or use them arbitrarily, even thinking that we are talking about the same thing. However, there are clear differences between narcissism and self-centeredness , to the point that the former can manifest as a personality disorder.

Few concepts are so common in everyday language. We tend to label such a person as "egocentric" for prioritizing their needs and desires before ours, and we also do not hesitate to call "narcissistic" those who see and interpret things from their own perspective without considering those of others.

This arbitrariness in terminology dilutes the original meaning and also the opportunity to apply these concepts correctly. Discovering that fine line that separates both psychological universes will be as curious as it is enriching. Let's dive into it.

What are the differences between narcissism and self-centeredness?

Before delving into the differences between narcissism and egocentricity, it is worth reflecting on one aspect. People live in an internal universe from which we perceive and interpret the world. All of us, in some way, are integrated into that "egocentric" perception that goes from the inside out , from the mind itself to the world that surrounds us.

Now, there are those who take it to the extreme. Who rarely leaves that inner shell to connect with others, to give in to other visions, learn from other approaches or share common ideas. There are degrees, both narcissism and egocentricity fall within a spectrum that goes from a more acceptable radius to the most pathological. Let us now distinguish what defines each psychological area.

Narcissism, a personality style that can make up a disorder

Personality style or parenting and education problem? This is often the first question experts often ask themselves when delving into narcissism. In many cases, we are facing a behavior that had its origin in a deficient education in which the lack of limits outlined an emotional and psychological exploiter. Let's see, however, the characteristics that define them.

  • Narcissism can manifest itself in the form of personality disorder. However, as we have pointed out, this behavior may be evidenced in a more attenuated way or already fall into a clinical category: narcissistic personality disorder .
  • On average, the narcissist has a remarkable need to get all the attention. They border on megalomania and delusions of grandeur. Now, there is a trait to take into account to differentiate them from the egocentric: narcissists need to have people around them to reinforce their "greatness." They use others to be someone, the egocentric ones on the other hand do not.
  • They do not connect with or care about the feelings of others. One of its most striking characteristics is the lack of empathy.
  • One of the most common differences between narcissists and egocentrics is that the former will always demonstrate a clear feeling of superiority . The egocentric does not seek it or need it.
  • Narcissism builds its own values ​​and its own moral sense. These set the rules and something like that causes, for example, they get to commit unethical acts. Furthermore, studies such as the one carried out at the University of Liverpool by Dr. Victoria Blinkorn, show us that there is a significant relationship between narcissism and criminal behavior .

The egocentric, a cognitive bias

One of the differences between narcissism and egocentricity is that while the former defines a personality style, the latter manifests itself in the form of cognitive bias. Furthermore, it does not constitute a diagnostic clinical category. It is a way of thinking, of interpreting reality.

Thus, and although it may seem that that line of separation between one and the other is still too narrow, we will understand it when we delve into these dimensions.

  • The Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget defined egocentricity as a way of thinking that defined children under the age of eight . It is about interpreting and seeing the world from a single perspective: one's own. Little by little, and as you reach maturity, you learn to integrate into other people's perspectives.
  • Now ... why are there people who continue to express that style of thinking when they reach adulthood? There are those who speak of immaturity or even a certain inability to connect with other people's perspectives, with going beyond their own opinions and thoughts.
  • Likewise, another type of bias also usually appears, that of similarity, that which makes us think that others think like us , that they think in the same way as oneself.
  • Egocentrism is basically a cult of the self, but without deriving in airs of greatness, without the need to attract attention either. Likewise, it does not show a lack of morals or a tendency to criminal behaviors such as narcissists.

How can I know if I am dealing with a narcissist or an egocentric?

We know that there are differences between narcissism and self-centeredness. However, sometimes we meet certain people who can confuse us. How do I know if I am facing a narcissist or someone who is incapable of having other perspectives than his own?

  • The narcissist is manipulative and always looks for something in return . The egocentric only aspires to be right, to impose his point of view.
  • Narcissism uses the emotions of others to exert control and for this, it can be friendly and seductive at first. Little by little, we will see how his personality and intentions vary.
  • On the other hand, the egocentric is less sophisticated . Their behavior may seem immature and even childish. He does not manipulate and shows himself from the beginning in the same way, what we see is what he is: someone who only takes into account his perspectives, opinions and needs.

To conclude, we are aware that both behaviors can be problematic for us. However, it is the narcissist who can always act most damagingly . Let's keep it in mind.


  • Blinkhorn, Victoria & Lyons, Minna & Almond, Louise. (2018). Criminal Minds: Narcissism Predicts Offending Behavior in a Non-Forensic Sample. Deviant Behavior. 1-7. 10.1080/01639625.2017.1422458.

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