What Is a Need?


A need is something that you must have for survival, such as food or shelter. You can also have needs that are psychological or social, such as belongingness and esteem. Needs are a topic of interest in a variety of academic fields, including philosophy, biology, psychology, sociology and economics. Needs and wants are the basis for a number of economic theories, including resource allocation and demand theory.

The most well-known academic model of human motivation is Abraham Maslow’s 1943 hierarchy of needs. Maslow proposed that people have basic physiological or lower-order needs (such as food, water and shelter) and higher-order needs for affiliation and esteem. He suggested that people must fulfill these basic needs before they can satisfy the higher-order needs of self-actualization.

While Maslow’s model is generally regarded as useful, it must be adapted for specific contexts. For example, if you are homeless, your primary needs may be food and shelter while your secondary needs might include connections and love. It is important to prioritize your basic needs and focus on achieving them before you move on to more ambitious goals like earning a degree or starting a business.

Moreover, biological studies of human life-history development suggest that human beings have distinct goal systems related to mating and familial care. Consequently, it is likely that a functional analysis of fundamental human motives will lead to several revisions to Maslow’s model.

For example, some scholars have argued that the highest-level need in Maslow’s hierarchy, self-actualization, does not constitute a separate mental or psychological motivational need and should instead be subsumed under the broader set of affiliation or esteem needs. Others have suggested that the hierarchy of human needs must be modified to account for societal-level goals such as health, wealth and security.

In addition, a functional analysis of the English language suggests that articles such as an or a are used to modify countable nouns and not uncountable ones such as a tree or water. For example, the word “a” is used before a noun that can be counted, such as an umbrella, while the word “a tree” is used before a noun that cannot be counted, such as a forest.

Finally, it is important to note that the article “an” should not be used before a plural noun. For example, the word “a/an” is not used with a group of elephants, but it is used with a single elephant. This distinction is important for understanding the meaning of the article.