- Date: 1640
- 1 : concerned excessively or exclusively with oneself : seeking or concentrating on one's own advantage, pleasure, or well-being without regard for others
- 2 : arising from concern with one's own welfare or advantage in disregard of others <a selfish act>
- 3 : being an actively replicating repetitive sequence of nucleic acid that serves no known function <selfish DNA>; also : being genetic material solely concerned with its own replication <selfish genes>
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".