What Is a Need?

A need is a fundamental requirement that an individual must meet in order to function, survive and experience satisfaction. It may be physical, psychological or social. Needs are a subject of interest in a number of fields, including philosophy, biology, psychology and sociology.

In general, needs are regarded as more important than wants and have a higher priority in terms of how a person should prioritize their actions and decisions. This is because needs are considered to be more fundamental in terms of a person’s survival and well-being. In contrast, wants are often regarded as more desirable or enjoyable but may not necessarily be essential for survival and well-being.

Depending on the situation, a need can be either a limiting or a liberating factor. For example, a person’s need to be loved can have negative consequences if they do not receive enough attention from their partner or others. However, a person’s need to feel secure can provide them with an emotional base that allows them to grow emotionally.

Some examples of basic human needs include food, water and shelter. Having these needs met can lead to an overall sense of well-being, even if people are not happy with all aspects of their lives. Needs are a vital component of an individual’s identity and can also impact their sense of self-worth and well-being.

While needs are often viewed as being essential for a happy and fulfilling life, there is debate over what constitutes a need. Some people argue that there are things that are not necessary but still valuable, such as hobbies, entertainment and relationships. Others, on the other hand, believe that there are things that are both necessary and valuable, such as a job and a home.

The word need can be used as a verb as well. It is used in the same way as other modal verbs, such as must, should and could. The difference is that it is more frequently used in negative contexts, such as telling someone that they do not need to do something or needn’t have done something. It is also used in interrogative sentences with he, she or it.

A college that meets its students’ financial need offers a sufficient amount of aid to cover the cost of tuition, fees and other school expenses. Generally, colleges that promise to meet need use a formula to determine how much financial aid a student is eligible for. Then, the college uses federal student loans, work study and scholarships to fill in the gap between a student’s expected family contribution (EFC) and what the university charges for attendance.

Need can be a powerful tool for growth and happiness, but only if it is understood correctly. The key is to distinguish between needs and wants, and to understand how your own needs relate to the needs of others. Only then can you build a meaningful and sustainable life. If you want to know more about understanding your needs and how to effectively communicate them to others, check out our Needs-Based Communication workbook!