Human wants and needs
2. Human needs
3. The theory of A.Maslow
4. McClelland's Need Theory
In economics, a want is something that is desired. It is said that every person has unlimited
wants, but limited resources. Thus, people cannot have everything they want and must look for
the most affordable alternatives.
Wants are often distinguished from needs. A need is something that is necessary for survival
(such as food and shelter), whereas a want is simply something that a person would like to
have. Some economists have rejected this distinction and maintain that all of these are simply
wants, with varying levels of importance.
2. Human needs
A need is something that is necessary for organisms to live a healthy life. Needs are
distinguished from wants because a deficiency would cause a clear negative outcome, such as
dysfunction or death. Needs can be objective and physical, such as food, or they can be
subjective and psychological, such as the need for self-esteem.
To most psychologists, need is a psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward
a goal, giving purpose and direction to behavior.
One of the problems with a psychological theory of needs is that conceptions of "need" may vary
radically between different cultures or different parts of the same society.
A second view of need is represented by the work of political economy professor Ian Gough. He
has published on the subject of human needs in the context of social assistance provided by the
welfare state. With medical ethics professor Len Doyal, he also published The Theory of
Their view goes beyond the emphasis on psychology: it might be said that an individual's needs
are representative of the costs of being human within society. A person who does not have his or
her needs fulfilled—i.e., a "needy" person—will function poorly in society.
In the view of Gough and Doyal, each person has an objective interest in avoiding serious harm
that prevents the endeavor to attain his or her vision of what's good, no matter what that is
exactly. This attempt requires the ability to participate in the societal setting in which an
individual lives. More specifically, each person needs to have both physical health and personal
autonomy. The latter refers to the capacity to make informed choices about what should be done
and how to implement that. This requires mental health, cognitive skills, and chances to
participate in society's activities and collective decision-making.
How are such needs satisfied? Doyal and Gough point to eleven broad categories of
"intermediate needs" that define how the need for physical health and personal autonomy are
1. Adequate nutritional food and water
2. Adequate protective housing
3. A safe environment for working
4. A safe physical environment
5. Appropriate health care
6. Security in childhood,
7. Significant primary relationships with others
8. Physical security
9. Economic security
10. Safe birth control and child-bearing
11. Appropriate basic and cross-cultural education.
How are the details of needs satisfaction determined? The authors point to rational identification
of needs using the most up-to-date scientific knowledge; the use of the actual experience of
individuals in their everyday lives; and democratic decision-making. The satisfaction of human
needs cannot be imposed "from above".
This theory should be compared to the capability approach developed by Amartya Sen and
Martha Nussbaum. Those with more internal "assets" or "capacities" (e.g., education, sanity,
physical strength, etc.) have more capabilities (i.e., more available choices, more positive
freedom). They are thus more able to escape or avoid poverty. Those with more capabilities
fulfill more of their needs.
In his 1844 Paris Manuscripts, Karl Marx famously defined humans as "creatures of need" or
"needy creatures" who experienced suffering in the process of learning and working to meet their
needs. These needs were both physical needs as well as moral, emotional and intellectual
needs. According to Marx, human development is characterized by the fact that in the process of
meeting their needs, humans develop new needs, implying that at least to some extent they make
and remake their own nature.
Professor György Márkus systematized Marx's ideas about needs as follows: humans are
different from other animals because their vital activity, work, is mediated to the satisfaction of
needs (an animal who manufactures tools to produce other tools or his/her satisfactors), which
makes a human being a universal natural being capable to turn the whole nature into the subject
of his/her needs and his/her activity, and develops his/her needs and abilities (essential human
forces) and develops himself/herself, a historical-universal being. A human being's conditions as
a social being are given by work, but not only by work as it is not possible to live a human being
without a relationship with others: work is social because human beings work for each other with
means and abilities produced by prior generations. Human beings are also free entities able to
accomplish, during their lifetime, the objective possibilities generated by social evolution, on the
basis of their conscious decisions. To sum up, the essential interrelated traits of human beings
are: a) work is their vital activity; b) human beings are conscious beings; c) human beings are
social beings; d) human beings are free.]
People also talk about the needs of a community or organization. Such needs might include
demand for a particular type of business, for a certain government program or entity, or for
individuals with particular skills.
3. The theory of A.Maslow
Many psychologists have made impacts on society's understanding of the world. Abraham
Maslow was one of these; he brought a new face to the study of human behavior. He proposed
the most widely known academic model of needs. In his theory, he proposed that people have a
hierarchy of psychological needs, which range from security to self-actualization..
Hierarchy of needs
An interpretation of Maslow's hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic
needs at the bottom.
A visual aid Maslow created to explain his theory, which he called the Hierarchy of Needs, is a
pyramid depicting the levels of human needs, psychological and physical. When a human being
ascends the steps of the pyramid he reaches self actualization. At the bottom of the pyramid are
the “Basic needs or Physiological needs” of a human being, food and water and sex. The next
level is “Safety Needs: Security, Order, and Stability.” These two steps are important to the
physical survival of the person. Once individuals have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, they
attempt to accomplish more. The third level of need is “Love and Belonging,” which are
psychological needs; when individuals have taken care of themselves physically, they are ready
to share themselves with others. The fourth level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable
with what they have accomplished. This is the “Esteem” level, the level of success and status
(from self and others). The top of the pyramid, “Need for Self-actualization,” occurs when
individuals reach a state of harmony and understanding.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a theory in psychology, proposed by Abraham Maslow in his
1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation. Maslow subsequently extended the idea to include
his observations of humans' innate curiosity. His theories parallel many other theories o