What is the Difference Between Ego and Pride?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Since ego and pride are often linked, and their definitions are so similar, it can be difficult to figure out exactly how they are different. A simple way to distinguish them is this: ego is rather selfish and often has no basis in fact, while pride tends to be less selfish and is typically based on the facts of a person's achievements and qualities. Some people think of ego as self-respect, and though it can lead to a sense of self-respect, it too often leads to arrogance instead.

Pride is based on achievements.
Pride is based on achievements.

When a person has a genuine ability in a particular field, this could be a source of pride. Instead, however, the person may begin to feel that he is the best in this field and that no one else is or ever will be worthy of working with him; he may feel this way regardless of whether or not there's actually any truth to his perceptions. Pride would make this person feel happy about his skills and accomplishments, without having to be the best or only one capable of achievement. It leads to confidence instead of the arrogance.

An over-inflated ego often leads to arrogance.
An over-inflated ego often leads to arrogance.

Ego and pride may also differ in terms of strength. Often, the ego is easily bruised while true pride is harder to shake. For example, ego often comes into play in dating situations. A person's ego may be hurt when a love interest suddenly becomes disinterested or criticizes certain physical attributes. If a person feels true pride in the things that make her unique, however, she may feel disappointed, but her confidence won't take a serious hit; ego is so frail because it is often built on exaggeration.

People with an inflated ego are overly concerned with how they are perceived by others.
People with an inflated ego are overly concerned with how they are perceived by others.

The two also differ in their effects on relationships. A person's ego may cause him to behave chauvinistically, put down another's attributes, or refuse to date someone whom he feels is beneath him. Often, these behaviors are rooted in hidden insecurities. The ego can mask them but not make them go away. If the person has real attributes to be proud of, however, his insecurities may lessen or at least become less pronounced.

Another difference is that pride may also be focused on others instead of being self-obsessed like ego. For example, a person's ego may cause her to think her children are the most well mannered; after all, how could she have children who are rude or crass? Pride may instead be focused on the things that are special about her children. For example, she might be proud of them for holding doors for other people or volunteering at a soup kitchen. A person can even feel proud of a wide range of other outward things, including her employer, neighborhood, or country.

It's important to note that ego isn't all bad. Ego is simply how a person views himself. If a person's ego has a firm basis in reality and he does not allow it to control his life, it can actually be good for his self-esteem to have both an ego and pride.

Someone who has pride takes better care of themselves.
Someone who has pride takes better care of themselves.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


Well Anon52582, if you were to achieve something, you will have pride in your work. Where's "selfishness" in that? That is called success.

If you have no pride in your work, then you don't feel important and valueless. Low self-esteem and all that. That's simple to think about, really.


What is ego?


Confidence is the belief that you can succeed. Arrogance is the belief that you cannot fail.


@anon52582: I don't think at this point in time anybody can understand or win this debate. It's impossible, too complex.

I may agree that one should just not take anyone's definitions of any words or meanings literally, just because a site or someone said so. That's one reason why we have so many problems.

In psychology I came across a book called Waking Up. It can really twist your thinking but I think it made some sense.

I think the ego is essentially a product of our own upbringing, like another side effect of modern living.

What about you? Do you claim to know anything on this particular subject?


Rather linked? Yeah. Mmm. Could someone do some research? You do know what ego means right?

"Another difference in ego and pride"... What grade is the author in?

The differences between the website's name and its content are clear; hyperbole.

And what's this? Now you're a psychology expert? "while pride tends to be less selfish..."

And pride does not attend to anything, pride is not an entity, it cannot act. Certainly no more than fear can get run over by a truck.

Wisegeek? You might want to ponder that.

Come on guys. really? I'm hurting here.

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