Definition of Egocentric
According to the Oxford Dictionary, egocentric means “thinking only of oneself, without regard for the feelings or desires of others, centered in or arising from a person’s own existence or perspective.” Here are a few examples of how the term egocentric is commonly used:
- “As a consequence, this advance in consumerism has led to a selfish, egocentric culture where one’s own needs come first at the exclusion of the needs of others.’‘
- “I don’t want to sound egocentric, but I was the reason we won the game.’‘
Egocentric has a few derivatives that are used frequently. Here are a few examples:
- Egocentrically, adverb: “As people will tend to view information egocentrically, how objective one’s perspective is on this information helps apply it to whatever it may be at hand.”
- Egocentricity, noun: “If you give to charity 100 times, the repetition breaks down your egocentricity.”
- Egocentrism, noun: “Studies have found adolescent egocentrism to be more prevalent among females than males.”
Direct synonyms of egocentric are:
Antonyms for the opposite of egocentric are:
What is Egocentric Predicament?
Egocentric predicament, a term coined by Ralph Barton Perry in an article titled, “Journal of Philosophy 1910”, is defined as the problem of not being able to view reality outside of our own perceptions. In the egocentric predicament, direct contact with reality cannot be made outside of our own minds, so we cannot certain that reality even exists. From this comes our own perceptual world and we are each entitled and limited to.
With egocentric thinking comes more than a few different egocentric thought processes that are defined by CriticalThinking.org.
- Egocentric Memory: to “forget” information which does not support our thinking and to “remember” information which does
- Egocentric Myopia: to think in an absolutist way within an overly narrow point of view
- Egocentric Infallibility: to think that our beliefs are true because we believe them
- Egocentric Righteousness: to feel superior in our confidence that we are in the possession of the truth
- Egocentric Hypocrisy: to ignore flagrant inconsistencies between what we profess to believe and the actual beliefs our behavior imply
- Egocentric Oversimplification: to ignore real and important complexities in the world in favor of simplistic notions when consideration of those complexities would require us to modify our beliefs
- Egocentric Blindness: not to notice facts or evidence which contradict our favored beliefs or values
- Egocentric Immediacy: to over-generalize immediate feelings and experiences–so that when one event in our life is highly favorable or unfavorable, all of life seems favorable or unfavorable as well
- Egocentric Absurdity: to fail to notice thinking which has “absurd” consequences, when noticing them would force us to rethink our position
Egocentrism can also cause people to make incorrect assumptions about other people’s thoughts and feelings. According to the “assumed similarity bias,” for example, we will believe that others agree with our views, even when there is little objective reason for thinking that they indeed, agree (PSY Blog). We might be right in any given situation, but there’s also a good chance we’re actually incorrect. We also display signs of egocentrism when we fail to communicate in ample detail.
Online communications and social media present many opportunities for egocentrism to take over. On Facebook, for example, you may be experiencing bullying at school and the situation makes you depressed, so you immediately share your view about that situation with a cryptic posting. Without any explanation in the post, it’s very unlikely that any close family or friends will actually get what you are referring too.
Egocentrism in Children
Egocentrism in children has a few different approaches that are greatly influenced by the works of Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky. Piaget and Vygotsky both contributed to egocentrism psychology in children by offering details of children’s cognitive learning styles and abilities. Even though Piaget and Vygotsky may differ on how they view cognitive development in children, both offer great insight and examples of egocentrism in children.
In Piaget’s opinion, children were not born naturally social and they lacked the ability to relate to others. Instead, Piaget believed that children are born focused solely on themselves (Educational Psychology). For example, when a child is talking to themselves while they play alone, they do it for self-centered purposes. Since the child has not yet developed their full social abilities, they don’t take others into consideration and are more likely to act on egocentric speech. To Piaget, this shows the child’s immaturity and that the child has not yet learned how to interact with others (Educational Psychology). As the child grows, their egocentric tendency would therefore fade away.
Vygotsky offered an alternative to Piaget’s belief of the stages of cognitive development in children. Vygotsky’s theory acknowledged that children learn through their culture and the social interactions they experience, which is much different from Piaget’s theory that children act on their environment to learn (Educational Psychology). Through what Vygotsky named “dialogues,” children socially interact with others to learn about the cultural values society, and that since human activities take place in cultural settings, our culture shapes our cognition.
Egocentrism in Adolescence
David Elkind dedicated his career to understanding the cognitive, perceptual, and social development in children and adolescents. Much of Elkind’s work is seen as an attempt to duplicate, build upon, and explore Piaget’s theory.
According to Piagetian theory, the abilities to separate oneself from one’s own thoughts and to analyze them develops during the young adolescence years. Elkind describes how young adolescents are preoccupied by themselves because during this time in their life, they undergo major physiological changes (Net Industries).
The main cause of egocentrism in adolescence is the feeling that we are constantly being observed and critiqued by an audience and that we cannot evade the scrutiny of others. The egocentric tendency of adolescents lies in their belief that others are also just as preoccupied with their appearance and behavior as they are. As a consequence, the adolescent anticipates other people’s responses and thoughts which leads to constantly creating what Elkind calls an “imaginary audience” because it exists only in our mind (Net Industries).
Example of Egocentrism
A teenage boy may have a tendency to bully other classmates because he wants to impress a special girl in his class by appearing “tough”, while this same girl may spend hours on her makeup and hair thinking that she will get his attention.
The Obvious Truth
As many of you probably realize, we never completely outgrow the imaginary audience. You would know this if you have ever decided to start taking new yoga or crossfit classes, or had to make an important presentation at work. You may often feel that everyone’s eyes are on you, but what you fail to still realize is that they’re not looking at you because they’re too worried about their own performance.
If your child is driven, assertive, independent, competitive, have a sense of time urgency and egocentric, then chances are they will become a bully with a egocentric personality unless further prevented.
Recognizing the personality traits above in children will help to identify those who are at risk of becoming bullies. Without a clear understanding of the people around them, the child is likely to use harsh words and have high expectations that are likely to push others beyond their capabilities. If the child does not respect the differences of others, they are also more likely to ridicule other children.
There is hope though. By utilizing leadership training and opportunities for these children, it will teach the child how to use their personality traits in a supportive way. Knowing that being egocentric, independent, driven and assertive is likely to lead a child to becoming a bully shows us that, no matter the age of the child, respect and empathy are skills that should be a part of any leadership training.
How to Counteract Egocentric Personality Disorder
- Make an honest assessment of your egocentric behaviors. Take accountability of the behaviors caused by ordinary egocentrism that may be getting out of hand and decide whether you’re letting your internal views alter your social interactions.
- Check out how other people feel. Put yourself in other people’s shoes by using active empathic listening to see not just from the inside out, but from the outside in.
- Build up your inner sense of self. Find ways to build your self-esteem that doesn’t involve the attention of others by developing a system to reward yourself for your accomplishments.
- Squelch your imaginary audience. You may feel that everyone is looking at and judging you, but most people are just as concerned about themselves as they are about you.
- Practice counter-egocentrism. For example, read over your e-mails or text messages before sending them to make sure you haven’t missed any details that are important. (Psychology Today)