In a two-horse race, always back the one called ‘self-interest’.

Paul Keating

While we may not like to admit it, we’re (mostly) driven by self-interest.

Before you get offended and claim that you have in fact grown a moustache to raise money for colon cancer research, protested to save an obscure species that was not even cuddly or cute and on more than one occasion allowed someone into traffic, we’re not suggesting that people don’t do good for anyone other than themselves. What we are suggesting is that we do a lot more good for others when there is something in it for us too.

Yet all our lives we are taught that someone who thinks of themselves or of their personal gain is self-centred, inconsiderate and in fact, not to be trusted. Additionally, we are taught to act as if the needs and desires of others are of far greater importance than anything we may personally aspire to and that we should instead defer our wishes and tendencies in favour of those of the people around us. However, as with many social niceties, this is just a game of pretend. In fact, in this environment, it is only the openly vain and self-serving who should have our trust as only they possess the courage to be truly honest.

Despite this social construct, when we conduct personality tests where loyalties are tested and connections strained, we find time and time again that the needs of ‘me’ and ‘mine’ sit not only consistently above the needs of all others, but also by a large ...

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