What is a Need?


A need is a physiological or psychological requirement for a person’s survival and well-being. According to the most widely accepted academic model, people must first fulfill their basic needs of food, water and shelter before they can move on to the higher psychological needs of belonging, esteem and self-actualization.

Generally speaking, a need is something that you can’t be happy or healthy without (for example, food, water). A want, on the other hand, is something that you would like to have but can live without. For example, a person who wants to own their own home but can afford to rent one might decide to buy an apartment in a new neighborhood rather than living in the same area they’ve always lived.

When a need is spoken about in the context of human relationships, it can refer to feelings of lack or desire for a person’s own needs to be met or for the other person to meet them. These feelings can also manifest themselves in a range of ways from anger and irritation, to jealousy and envy. In a relationship, feelings of need can be triggered by a variety of experiences and situations including arguments, disagreements, criticisms and even compliments.

People often use the word need as a verb when talking about their own personal or psychological needs. The most common need is for a sense of security and wellbeing, which can be fulfilled through love, friendship, compassion and support. Other psychological needs include a sense of belonging and identity, which can be fulfilled through social interaction and connections with others. In terms of physical health, needs may include the need for good nutrition and exercise as well as the need for sleep, rest and medical care.

There are a variety of academic theories that discuss the concept of need, however, the need as a physiological or psychological feature has received less attention in recent years than the related concepts of gratification and satisfaction. The most famous of these is Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow’s theory states that people need to satisfy their basic physiological or lower order needs, such as food, water and shelter, before they can move on to higher psychological or emotional needs of belonging, esteem and self-actualization.

The English verb need means “to have a necessity for or urge to do something” (Merriam-Webster). This modal verb can be used in the same way as other modal verbs, such as should, must and could, in particular when it is used in a negative form: “I should go but I don’t feel that I need to.”

During the course of their lives, people are likely to experience many different types of needs. It is important to be able to distinguish between these different types of needs in order to make appropriate decisions for their own health and happiness. In particular, it is important to understand the difference between needs and wants so that people can make informed choices about what to pursue in their life.