A need is a requirement for the survival of a person, animal or plant. It is the opposite of a want, which is something that is not essential for survival. Examples of needs include food, water and shelter. A person who cannot meet their basic needs will suffer from malnutrition and possibly die.
Need is an important part of the human experience and a subject of study in many fields, including philosophy, biology, psychology, sociology, history, economics, politics, business and marketing. The academic study of need reached its zenith in the 1940s with Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. His model has had a significant influence on the field of psychology, particularly in subfields such as personality, social psychology, psychopathology and developmental psychology.
Some people define a need as an innate biological state triggered by physiological deficits, such as hunger or thirst. Others, such as psychologists Deci and Ryan, believe that some needs are based on psychological experiences, such as feelings of affiliation or love. It is not clear whether these feelings are triggered by physiological deficits or by environmental factors, such as exposure to high-status people, affectionate friends and attractive mates.
The word need can also be used in a figurative sense to refer to a desire or aspiration. For example, someone might describe a new apartment as satisfying their need for safety. Others might use it to refer to a financial need, such as a need for money or a need to earn more. The phrase is often compared to the need for self-actualization, which was popularized by psychologists Abraham Maslow and Erich Fromm.
There are a number of different types of needs, including physical, emotional and social. The need for self-actualization is the fifth level in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It refers to a person’s desire for personal growth and fulfillment. It is a goal that can be accomplished through education, work, relationships and spiritual development.
A person’s needs can change throughout their life. Some needs may become more important while others fade away. For instance, a child’s need for food and water might decrease as they grow into adults and have their own children. In addition, people’s needs can be affected by their environment and culture.
In some cases, a need can be met by providing resources for the community or organization. For example, a charity might help people who are homeless meet their need for shelter. In other cases, the need can be fulfilled by providing services such as health care or education.
It is important to distinguish between needs and wants. It is common to see the words need and want used interchangeably, but there are specific rules for when each one should be used. A need is a requirement that a person must meet in order to survive: without food, water and shelter, a person will not be able to function properly or even live. A want is something that a person would like to have but that is not necessary for survival: it might be a designer shirt or the latest electronic gadget.