I've tried to make some searches on egocentrism and its opposite (Allocentrism).

The definitions from Wikipedia are:

Egocentrism is the inability to differentiate between self and other. More specifically, it is the inability to untangle subjective schemas from objective reality; an inability to understand or assume any perspective other than their own.

Although egocentrism and narcissism appear similar, they are not the same. A person who is egocentric believes they are the center of attention, like a narcissist, but does not receive gratification by one's own admiration. An egotist is a person whose ego is greatly influenced by the approval of others while a narcissist is not.

Allocentrism is a collectivistic personality attribute whereby people center their attention and actions on other people rather than themselves.

But since the prosocial actions are often motivated by ego needs (see Polatch effect for the extreme) can we say that among extreme idealistic people (i.e. militants in extreme organizations) we can find Narcissists as well?

A narcissist has absence of self-compassion, he thinks to be perfect. Is there a correlation between some form of Narcissism and altruism?

EDIT: I found this

“(The) Israeli zoologist Amotz Zahavi (suggested that) (a)ltruistic giving may be an advertisement of dominance and superiority. Anthropologists know it as the Potlach Effect ... Only a genuinely superior individual can afford to advertise the fact by means of a costly gift ... through costly demonstrations of superiority, including ostentatious generosity and public spirited risk taking... (I)f Zahavi is right ... conspicuous generosity (is) a way of buying unfakeably authentic (self-)advertising.”

(any help at improving the question is very welcome)

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    $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "But since the prosocial actions are motivated by a need of self-affirmation"? The article you link to does not seem to mention a 'need' of self-affirmation at all. Considering "Self-affirmation theory contends that if individuals reflect on values that are personally relevant to them, they are less likely to experience distress and react defensively when confronted with information that contradicts or threatens their sense of self.", I do not understand what you mean by a 'need' of self-affirmation. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:36
  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps by saying that "prosocial actions are motivated by a need of self-affirmation" you imply that people perform altruistic actions because it makes them feel better about themselves? Given your question this smells a bit like circular reasoning. $\endgroup$
    – Steven Jeuris
    Commented Feb 25, 2016 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ @StevenJeuris: you are right.. I've tried to clarify my question a bit.. My question is more about: "do people which wants to fight for a cause (i.e. greenpeace activists) are actually doing it for their ego or for other coping reason.. I'm thinking of the extremists.. how can I express it in a politically correct english? $\endgroup$
    – Revious
    Commented Feb 26, 2016 at 16:13
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    $\begingroup$ Just a note about your tags. Cognitive psychology and abnormal psychology are generally taken to be about mental information processing and psychopathologies, respectively. They don't seem relevant here, and your question is much more about social psychological constructs and personality. $\endgroup$
    – splint
    Commented Feb 28, 2016 at 12:27
  • $\begingroup$ @splint: fixed. Do you have some suggestions about how to improve this sentence? "can we say that among extreme idealistic people (i.e. militants in extreme organizations) we can find Narcissists as well?" $\endgroup$
    – Revious
    Commented Feb 29, 2016 at 8:42

1 Answer 1


According to the empathy-altruism hypothesis, in some circumstances, people help because they genuinely care about the welfare of the other person and not because of any other personal goal i.e. avoid distress, social norm, Self-affirmation etc.

The empathy-altruism hypothesis basically states that psychological altruism does exist and is evoked by the empathic desire to help someone who is suffering. Feelings of empathic concern are contrasted with feelings of personal distress, which compel people to reduce their own unpleasant emotions. People with empathic concern help others in distress even when exposure to the situation could be easily avoided, whereas those lacking in empathic concern avoid helping unless it is difficult or impossible to avoid exposure to another's suffering.


The social exchange theory states that altruism does not exist unless benefits to the helper outweigh the costs. C. Daniel Batson disagrees. He holds that people help others in need out of genuine concern for the well-being of the other person. The key ingredient to helping is "empathic concern". According to his 'empathy-altruism hypothesis', if you feel empathy towards another person you will help them, regardless of what you can gain from it (1991).

There is a lot of debate about the empathy-altruism hypothesis theory, but I tend to agree with it.


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