Difference Between Want and Need

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: April 30, 2023


Difference Between Want and Need

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In many cases, someone will express a want and then confuse it with a need.

Michael is 15 years old and Anna is his mother. Michael is returning to school for his first year of high school. Anna had always bought Michael a new pair of bags from a nearby local large box store for under Rs 400 in prior years so that Michael would have something that suited him well for the school year. Anna rarely spends more than RS 400 because that is all she is able to spend without incurring debts. She is a single mom who has to satisfy all of their demands. However, Michael is disappointed this year because he wants some branded bags that cost more than RS 4000.

Michael is furious about the $40 bag since he wanted some Rs 4000 bags, but he is prepared to compromise for RS 2000 bags too. Michael is furious about the $40 bag since he wanted some Rs 4000 bags, but he is prepared to compromise for RS 2000 bags too.

Anna informs Michael that that's not possible since it would deplete the shelter fund. Michael insists that possessing a more costly pair of bags is a requirement since he will not be deemed acceptable in society if he lacks them. All of his peers have more expensive name-brand bags, and he will experience emotional and social anguish if he does not obtain these. According to Michael's requirements versus desires psychology, more expensive shoes are required to complete 9th grade. He doesn't know the difference between a want and a need.

It is occasionally not simple to distinguish between a need and a desire or to recognize how valuable we are in addressing our needs and desires. Understanding our needs and desires, on the other hand, can help us enhance our health and well-being. 

Need Vs Want

The main difference between wants and needs can both be broadly defined as psychological elements that influence human behavior. For example, a need for shelter would push us to seek accommodation, just as a desire for a wonderful meal would motivate us to seek out a decent restaurant. Understanding the definition and distinction between needs and desires is critical for living a healthy and meaningful life.

Wants, on the other hand, are commonly characterized as wants for things other than needs. These can range from luxuries such as fine clothes and expensive cars to more modest pleasures such as a nice book or a relaxing bath.

Difference Between Need and Want in Tabular Form

Parameters of


Need Want
Definition  A need is anything that is required to survive. A want is anything that is not required to survive
Example Food, oxygen, cloth, sleep Branded shoes, cloth, fancy house
Nature is Limited Unlimited
Wish Something you must have Something you wish to have
Survival Essential Unessential
Not meeting the demands Leading to death or being sick Leads to disappointment
Controls It cannot be controlled Can be controlled

What is meant by “NEED”?

The term "needs" refers to those things that are absolutely necessary for an individual to have a good quality of life. An organism must have personal, psychological, cultural, sociological, and other aspects to live.

Food, clothes, and shelter were the fundamental necessities of humankind in ancient times, but as time passed, education and healthcare became essential, as they improved the quality of life. They are a person's primary priority because they are what keep us healthy and safe. As a result, if demands are not met on time, it can lead to disease, incapacity to operate correctly, or even death.

Humans also have societal or socioeconomic requirements, such as the need to socialize or to belong to a family or community. Needs can be objective and physical, such as hunger, or psychical and subjective, such as self-esteem. The term "unmet need" refers to unfulfilled needs in a social environment.

Different Types of Needs

According to the 21st generation, they are 7 basic needs an individual should have

  • Air: Breathing is a crucial function of our bodies; if there is no correct intake of air, the person will likely die immediately. Our body's functions will gradually cease to function. Without air for four minutes, our brains will suffer irreparable damage, and we will die within 5 to 6 minutes. Intaking of oxygen is important
  • Water: Water that is safe and easily accessible is essential for the health of society, whether it is utilized for drinking, at home, farming, or pleasure. Improved water supply and sanitation, as well as better water resource management, contribute significantly to poverty reduction. However, you cannot go for more than three days without drinking water.
  • Food; Nutrients are compounds that are necessary for the development, repair, and upkeep of bodily tissues, as well as for the regulation of vital activities. Nutrition gives our bodies the energy they require for proper functioning. A well-balanced diet is essential. To survive, the body requires the vitamins and minerals found in food. Without these, it will begin to degrade its tissue for use as food. All of the human body's systems and processes are affected by starvation. It is impossible to say the length of time someone may go without eating, but specialists believe it is between one and two months.
  • Sleep: Our bodies are working hard to support good brain function and keep us in good health. Sleep also promotes development and growth in kids and adolescents as well. Inadequate sleep can increase your risk of chronic (long-term) health problems over time. Get sick less frequently. Maintaining a healthy weight reduces your chances of developing significant health issues such as diabetes and heart disease. Reduce your tension and boost your mood. 264 hours, or slightly more than 11 days. Although it is unknown how long humans can survive without sleep, the symptoms of sleep deprivation become apparent quickly. You can begin to hallucinate after only three or four nights of not sleeping.
  • Clothing: We need attire to protect ourselves from dust, rain, insects, and sunlight. A human being's basic needs for survival include food and shelter. Similarly, clothing is an important component of our daily lives. The need to hide one's body gradually increased over time.
  • Shelter: A shelter provides cover and safety from various weather conditions such as rain, wind, heat, cold, and dangerous animals. It serves as a location to rest and do daily activities. It gives a private space as well as storage for belongings.
  • Education is required for any type of development. It elevates human stature and leads to appropriateness for all. It assists us in living a healthy and planned life. It teaches us how to earn and spend money.

Theories Related To “ Needs” In Psychology

Maslow's hierarchy of needs is a well-known and widely accepted theory that outlines the different types of needs humans have. According to this theory, there are five main types of needs, which are as follows:

  • Physiological Needs: These are the most fundamental needs of humans, which are essential for survival. They include things like food, water, air, shelter, sleep, and other bodily requirements.
  • Safety Needs: Once physiological needs are met, humans begin to focus on safety and security needs. These include the need for stability, protection from harm, and a safe environment.
  • Love and Belonging Needs: After the physiological and safety needs are met, humans require social interaction, love, and belonging. This includes the need for relationships, friendship, and intimacy.
  • Esteem Needs: Esteem needs refer to the need for self-respect, respect from others, recognition, and a sense of achievement. These needs include both internal and external sources of self-esteem.
  • Self-Actualization Needs: The final and highest level of needs is self-actualization. This is the need for personal growth, self-fulfillment, and the realization of one's full potential.

What is Meant by “want”?

Wants are characterized as anything that an individual would like to have now or distinct from the future. Broadly explained, wishes are the desires that drive business activity to provide the goods and services that the community requires. They are a choice, which means that an individual will survive even if they are dissatisfied. Further, wants can fluctuate from man to man and from moment to moment.

As we generally realize, our desires are infinite, while the tools to satisfy them are finite. Hence, all the demands of a human cannot be satisfied, and they must seek other solutions.

Wants are desires. Wants are objects that you would desire to own. But they are not vital to your survival. Everyone has their own set of desires. Many individuals desire a large house, fine dining, branded clothing, a new car, a trip to a faraway place, and so on. Wants can alter over time. For example, when you were a child, you might have wanted to buy a big toy. However, as you get older, your likes and preferences change, and so do your desires. Although the inability to achieve a desire cannot result in death or physical illness, it can cause mental pain.

These are the different types of wants

  • Material wants: These are things that people desire to own, such as luxury cars, designer clothing, expensive jewelry, and high-tech gadgets. They know that these are not necessary for them, but still, it has become a habit for them.
  • Experiential wants: These are things that people want to experience, such as traveling to exotic places, attending music festivals or concerts, trying new foods, and pursuing hobbies.  They love exploring new things in life. To taste food in a new restaurant opened near their home and to purchase a new phone in the market, even though they recently bought the new phone.
  • Social wants: These want that relate to social interaction and relationships, such as the desire for friendship, love, companionship, and social status.  They love to make friends; they are kind of extroverts by nature. They love themselves for that.
  • Intellectual desires: These are desires related to knowledge and learning, such as the desire for education, books, and intellectual stimulation. Some people are obsessed with books and would buy book after book. they could spend their entire pocket on them
  • Emotional desires are desires associated with emotions and feelings, such as the desire for happiness, joy, peace, and contentment. They feel far too sad at times; they know it's pointless, but there's nothing they can do about it.
  • Spiritual wants: These are desires related to spirituality and religion, such as the desire for inner peace, enlightenment, and connection with a higher power.

Difference Between Wants And Needs (In Points)

  • The term "need" is defined as an individual's basic requirement that must be met to exist. wants  are described as  goods and services that an individual desires, within his whims.
  • An individual's needs are limited while his desires are limitless.
  • Needs represent survival while wants refer to satisfaction.
  • A need is something  you must have to live. On the contrary,  it wants something  you desire to have,  to add comfort to your life.
  • Needs are very important for human existence. On the other hand, wants are not as important as needs, because a person can live without wanting.
  • The necessities of life, their dissatisfaction can lead to illness or even death. On the other hand, desires that are not necessary for life and therefore unfulfilled do not have much effect on one's life, however, frustration can be present.
  • Needs are necessities for life and do not change over time. As opposition, wishes are the items that  an individual desires, now or in the future. Therefore, desires can change over time.


Wants and needs are separate concepts that are frequently used interchangeably. A need is anything that is required for surviving, whereas a want is something that is wanted but not required for survival. Food, water, shelter, clothing, and medical treatment are examples of necessities that humans require to survive and preserve their basic well-being. These are necessities for survival that cannot be overlooked. Needs are universal and exist in everyone. Wants, on the other hand, are things that are desirable or preferred but are not necessary for living. People may want or want certain things, yet they can survive without them. Personal preferences influence desires, cultural values, societal norms


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"Difference Between Want and Need." Diffzy.com, 2024. Sat. 15 Jun. 2024. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-want-and-need-1257>.

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