I’d consider myself more of an altruist. I love eggos, not egos. I can’t help but be selfish sometimes, though. In my head, of course.
“Sure, you can have the last slice of pizza.” I hope you drop the toppings on the floor. Or all over your shirt. Yeah. Much better.
“Sure, I’ll go halfsies on that very expensive gift you want to buy for so-and-so.” So I’ll see you in a few days…after you volunteer to push my car Flintstone style because I have no money for gas.
So should we be giving until it hurts, or looking out for numero uno?
Philosopher and author Ayn Rand wrote that “If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.” The 14th Dalai Lama believed that “If you wish to experience peace, provide peace for another.” Both sides offer viable arguments. If we’re too busy bending over backwards for others, our own well-being may suffer. If we refuse to help others, there’s a very good chance we will end up with few allies. One thing is for certain – egoists and altruists view the world and humanity in very different ways.
After collecting data from over 13,000 people on Queendom.com, we uncovered eye-opening information on the philosophies of giving and receiving. Gender comparisons reveal that women are more altruistic than men (score of 75 vs. 65 on a scale of 0 to 100), more empathetic (73 vs. 68), and more willing to be helpful (71 vs. 66). Age comparisons indicate that older age groups (those 30 and over) compared to younger age groups are more altruistic (74 vs. 65), empathetic (75 vs. 69), and helpful (74 vs. 66). Younger people are also more likely to be “opportunistic:” their altruism comes with stipulations. They are willing to give, but want something in return. Queendom’s statistics also reveal that 55% of people have been accused of being self-centered at least once in their life, and of those who proclaimed themselves as being totally altruistic, ironically, 6% admit that others actually consider them to be the total opposite.
The thing is, whether altruism is better than egoism (or vice versa) is highly subjective. Some people feel that it’s best to look out for themselves. Others feel that it’s our purpose in life, if not our duty, to help others. Does that mean that egoists are selfish and don’t live fulfilling lives? Not necessarily. But our research does show that altruists are more likely to be in happy relationships, to enjoy their job and to perform well at work. And despite what some may think, being altruistic doesn’t require a big bank account. Interestingly, our test-takers in the lower salary ranges were actually slightly more altruistic than those in the upper ranges.
So to what degree do egoists and altruists differ? After comparing extreme egoists to extreme altruists, here’s what our stats revealed:
- 1% of egoists stated that they enjoy helping people, compared to 98% of altruists.
- 3% of egoists said that they feel really bad when they see someone less fortunate than them, compared to 88% of altruists.
- 4% of egoists regularly do favors for others without being asked, compared to 86% of altruists.
- 4% of egoists said that they would make themselves readily available if someone needed help, compared to 89% of altruists.
- 9% of egoists would offer their seat on a bus to an elderly person, compared to 96% of altruists.
- 10% of egoists consider themselves a supportive and encouraging person, compared to 97% of altruists.
- 11% of egoists said that it upsets them to see someone in pain, compared to 98% of altruists.
- For 65% of egoists, the first person they turn to when they need a favor is someone they did a favor for in the past; only 13% of altruists would do this.
- 76% of egoists have helped someone in order to get on his/her good side, compared to 6% of altruists.
- 89% of egoists expect favors to be returned. Interestingly, none of the altruists held this perspective very strongly – only 5% said that they “sometimes” expect something in return, while the rest of the 95% stated that they would not expect anything.
- 90% of egoists will help someone if doing so will benefit them in some way, compared to 3% of altruists.
- When asked what they would do if they found a wallet with $100 and credit cards, the top answer for egoists was to “Keep the cash and throw everything else out.” The top answer for altruists was to “Mail it to the owner at my own expense.” (Wow)