Difference Between Need and Want

Human beings as biological and social beings face different facts, situations, circumstances, sensations and emotions, as well as desires and needs, whose satisfaction generates the sensation of happiness, tranquility, peace, joy, among others.

The shortcomings that arise in people’s lives, from the material, spiritual, social, family or personal point of view, make each individual act and express himself in various ways in search of resolving the situation that prevents him from being satisfied. Likewise, satisfaction is achieved by eliminating these deficiencies, when what the person requires is obtained.

Therefore, the desire and the need are, consequently, the result of the emotions that are generated from these deficiencies. However, we are talking about two totally different concepts, which we will point out in this article.


Need refers to the sensation generated by the lack or absence of certain elements, objects, feelings, among others. In the same way, what the human being requires in order to live, maintain and develop is called necessity.

At the same time, when speaking of necessity, reference is made to what the person requires and that is essential for his life. For psychologists, the need is an impulse conditioned by what the person requires in order to survive. Consequently, we refer to the state of the person in relation to the means that he considers necessary for his existence and development.

According to different theorists, there are five types of basic needs for the human being, such as:

  1. The physiological, such as eating, drinking, dressing.
  2. Security needs as protection.
  3. Affective needs such as love, friendship.
  4. Esteem needs such as acceptance.
  5. Self-actualization needs such as personal success and achievement.

For example : thirst, cold, hunger are sensations of lack of water, clothing and food of the person, so you need water, food and clothing to survive.


Desire can be defined as the superior interest of a person to obtain the possession or realization of something. Desire is the aspiration, desire or longing that drives you to act to get something you want.

It can be said then that desire is nothing more than acting to satisfy a longing, whether of a material, spiritual or affective nature. The desire can arise from the memory of situations that were pleasant and pleasant, from ignorance of some situation or from other people’s reference to pleasant situations.

The desire can even arise from a need, since, when the person has a lack, his desire, desire to obtain it and aspiration become stronger, so it becomes desire.

For example : a person wants to eat a particular food because he remembers that its taste was pleasant and pleasant, even when he is not hungry, so eating it is not a necessity.

Taking into account the above, the following differences between need and desire can be pointed out:

Need Desire
The need arises from the lack of material objects, emotions, feelings or affections that a person has. The desire arises from the memory of pleasant sensations or the need to obtain something. 


The need is due to the lack of essential things for life. The desire is due to the lack of things that are not essential for life.

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