Human needs: what they are, what they are, types in psychology

Definition of the term

This mental state speaks of a desire that has not been satisfied, so discomfort and tension are formed. This need is determined by the lack of conditions and means to achieve set goals - from basic (eat, get warmth, procreate) to high, for example, self-realization. This sensation regulates the entire human body. It is very important to understand your goals, understand their nature, and also find ways to satisfy them. Otherwise, they begin to act on us subconsciously.

So, all the needs can be divided into:

  • Conscious - they are understood, accepted, corrected and consciously turned into goals and interests.
  • Unconscious ones are not perceived directly, therefore they are actualized emotionally.

Regardless of what needs a person has, whether they are conscious of them or not, they are resolved or replaced - this is how a mental reaction works when it is not possible to achieve what you want.

Let me present the characteristic features of this condition:

  • lack of staticity;
  • instability, tendency to change;
  • the possibility of new ones appearing in place of lost or sold ones;
  • dependence of desires on activities.

This condition is inherent in every man and woman from the moment of birth. If for an infant only the receipt of warmth, close proximity to the mother and food are essential, then for a developed, adult member of society there are higher levels of necessity, including self-realization.

Presence in animals

I have already said that social aspirations arise only due to belonging to society. But in the animal world there is also a hierarchy and laws. Therefore, it is customary to share zoosocial desires: parental, migration, play, adaptation.

It is difficult to call them fully social, but many scientists consider them to be the primary source of the emergence of human needs.

So, a social need is the need for communication, realization, peace, care, power. This list could go on for quite a long time. Personality cannot be formed outside of society without interacting with others and realizing one’s desires.

Examples related to the upbringing of children by animals are convincing proof of this. Several such cases are known. And in all of them, a person was never able to adapt to life among people and become a full-fledged member of society. After all, when he feels only primary aspirations, he becomes like a beast and actually turns into it.

Identification and development of needs

Any task is formed in stages, in several steps. With a healthy psyche, the main ideas are formed at an early stage - before the age of 18-20, then an independent, holistic personality appears. If a child develops slowly and does not realize what he wants, the question of developmental disabilities can be raised.

It is worth noting that most people experience various kinds of changes throughout their lives. This is due to new tasks - this is normal. If a woman does not understand what motivates her, why she makes decisions that are not typical for her, then she has not recognized her own new desires.

In such cases, contact me, I will help you understand yourself. After my consultation, you will feel a surge of strength, analyze your own motives, set goals and realize them.

So, any task is formed in two stages:

  • An ideal entity appears - a unique condition for achieving the set goals. This ideal for activity is gradually becoming more specific and acquiring logical features.
  • The concept is transformed into a concrete form and is realized. It begins to move intentions and actions.

Let me give you an example. A person first feels emptiness, a desire to get closer to others. Then he realizes that this feeling is a need for love. And only when full awareness occurs, this goal contributes to the emergence of the task - to find a beloved man/woman in order to realize one’s own intentions.


A natural human need is the need to feel like a self-sufficient person. It is important for all of us to “find ourselves.” A person, realizing his potential, abilities and demonstrating knowledge, feels useful. When a person does what she likes and brings a certain result, harmony comes. A person ceases to feel like a useless and hopeless empty place. Following this, the need for recognition and praise is satisfied. Humans are characterized by healthy egoism and the need to be the center of attention at least sometimes. Everyone is familiar with this situation: at work, they praised the team for a certain achievement and gave them a bonus. Usually they say in such cases: “It’s a small thing, but it’s nice!” At this point, the social need for achievement and self-satisfaction is satisfied. So, high spirits and a smile on your face are a completely understandable phenomenon.

What types of needs exist?

There are several classifications, but the most developed and widespread is by origin. There are:

  • Biological. They are also physical or material. These include all needs that are innate in nature. In many ways, they are similar to the instincts of animals and should be one of the first to be realized. Much depends on their implementation, on some - directly the life of the individual, on others - the development of the human species. This category includes the need for food, reproduction, and warmth (hence the desire to be in comfort). If you get stuck on this lower level, serious psychological problems can begin, including those associated with overeating or, in general, with a consumer type of consciousness, when the individual no longer has tasks other than buying items and clothes.
  • Social. They are personal. Each of us is in society, is a direct part of it. At the same time, we play the roles of wife, mother, daughter, employee, customer. The basis of each mask is both typical (general stereotypes, norms) and individual. The higher the level of individuality, the brighter the personality traits are drawn. This type includes all spiritual and social aspirations, including the development of relationships and careers. The most significant needs include work and communication. Everyone needs rest, but you need to relax after work.
  • Spiritual or existential. They represent the most complex set of desires, since they are formed on the basis of real cultural experience and knowledge. There are people who do not experience significant impact from these needs because they are fixated on the first two categories. These include everything that connects a particular individual with the world - not only from a social point of view, but from a moral one. This is art, creativity, self-realization, development.

According to these three varieties, the basic types of human needs can occasionally be replaced with each other. For example, let’s imagine a creative person, an artist, a creator. He can spend a day at a canvas and feed on inspiration alone. Here we see how the biological basis has temporarily given way.

Psychologist Daria Milai

Make an appointment

In addition to the one presented, there are many classifications based on different principles:

  • by origin: natural and imparted by society (eat / eat in a cafe);
  • in the direction: material and spiritual (buy a fur coat / love animals);
  • by field of activity: communication, professional (communicate / get promoted);
  • by origin: endogenous and exogenous, that is, appearing on their own, from the inside, or grafted by people or external conditions - any organism must be nourished, but only those who are in a cold climate receive twice as much heat.

Also in the professional literature there is a division into basic and acquired. According to this concept, some form the foundation and are indisputable, while others are subject to adjustment and discussion.

Why satisfy a need?

A. Maslow listed desires from bottom to top. Since only when the lowest level is satisfied can one move on to the next one. Spiritual and social needs are necessary and important, but when feeling hungry and lack of sleep, the individual will show indifference to them. In the Middle Ages, such schemes were specifically used by dominant tyrants and generals. They believed that an individual suffering from hunger was easier to control than a well-fed one.

Unsatisfied biological desires deprive the possibility of thinking, rational reasoning, striving for freedom, and achieving goals. Therefore, keeping your body in good shape, constantly paying attention to it and fulfilling all requests is an important rule for full functioning in life.

Let's look at the table to see what human needs you know.

The most basic ones are:

BiologicalThe life activity of any individual is based on them. The survival of the species directly depends on their implementation.
SocialThey are not reflected in animals, even in herd animals (the desire to become a leader has an instinctive nature - to find the strongest male so that he protects everyone). Often people are judged by the level of development of social roles and the degree of their implementation.
SpiritualThey reflect that the individual is part of society. Their task is to instill a goal for self-realization, for striving forward. Without this category there would be no scientists, artists, writers.

Face-to-face consultation

What are the features and advantages of face-to-face consultation?

Find out more

Skype consultation

What are the features and benefits of Skype consultations?

Find out more

A. Maslow's theory

A psychologist from America identified 5 levels of things necessary for existence and self-realization. These levels are included in one hierarchy. They are an indicator of essence - the higher a person rises in the pyramid, the more developed he becomes.

I will list the levels from lowest to highest:

  1. Physiology.
  2. Safety.
  3. Love and belonging.
  4. Self-respect.
  5. Self-actualization.

The first two steps can be classified as low. Their satisfaction is primary and necessary. But often the desire to move forward ends there. Each individual receives them from birth, but they can be improved and branched out.

Physiology includes everything bodily - sleep, food, health. To security - a stable income or other type of income. That is, the second level ensures the uninterrupted implementation of the first.

Let me give you an example. A hungry person will first get food for one time, get enough, and then think about how to make sure that the food is constant.

The remaining three stages are the highest needs of a person, which can only be determined and developed by a person, individuality. They strongly depend on the society in which we find ourselves, and reflect the social, political, cultural and even religious situation.

Achieving or at least understanding the tasks of the first level, the desire for self-development is an indicator of a mentally healthy personality. But not everyone reaches the top. The higher the need is, the easier it is to postpone it until “later”, to justify the unnecessaryness of actions.

Hierarchy according to A. Maslow

I will present an even more specific hierarchical system from a psychologist:

Additional from a psychological point of viewself-realizationdevelopment of talent, interests, abilities, skills
aestheticsneed for all types of art
cognitionthe need for training – not in terms of obtaining a diploma, but for the purpose of cognitive activity
Basic psychologicalrespectself-respect and recognition of others
Lovefriendship, romance, family
safetyprotection against external threats
Physiologicalfood, rest, shelter, sexual desire

K. Alderfer's theory

Essentially, the psychologist is a successor to Maslow, but he slightly modifies both the pyramid and some of the postulates. He identifies three levels of human needs, each group of which provides:

  • existence - at the physical, biological levels of both the individual and the human species;
  • connectedness is a social manifestation of society;
  • development.

Some provisions contradict the concept of its predecessor, including that:

  • Needs can be used not only singly, but also in pairs, that is, one motive grows from several needs.
  • Anyone who cannot satisfy a high level begins to strongly desire to quickly solve a lower one - for example, people often replace love with sex.

E. Fromm's theory

This scientist followed Freud and his idea of ​​the unconscious. It is this that contains the potential that requires development. According to Fromm, there are several subtypes of needs:

  • in communication;
  • in creative pursuits;
  • in the feeling of belonging to something big - a family, a nation;
  • in an attempt to compare something with an ideal, perhaps non-existent concept;
  • in awareness of the surrounding space.

D. McClelland's theory

The scientist did not consider the basic instincts that are identical to animals. His attention was focused on those manifestations of desires that were acquired during life. He attaches great importance to the childhood period, since it is at that moment that one of the three needs is laid down. We list them below.

In achieving

Begins to develop in independent children. It consists of recognizing success, trying to lead a group of people, a company, an organization. It is very important to reach the norm, as well as to exceed it. For example, an athlete who values ​​his result only if it is superior to others.

In accession

It is created in childhood with friendly relations on equal terms between parents and younger ones. With such priorities comes the desire to establish contact with everyone, solve issues together, and be in society. He values ​​friendship and family.

In power

Already in adolescence, the mother and father can encourage such behavior in the child. From the name it is clear that the essence of the need is manifested in the subordination of people, in primacy among equals, in their recognition of leadership, as well as in receiving respect.

Ask a question


With the advent of innovations, desires will become more extensive. They are based on biological ones, because if there is no harmony at the physiological level, then others will not be able to be realized. Then they develop in two directions - from the point of view of nature and society.

For example, a man wants to eat. So that he can fill this need as fully as possible, he, as well as the surrounding society, receives a new task - knowledge. So, now knowledge becomes the key to obtaining food and sustenance.

It is very important that all desires develop at the right time and in the right direction - without replacement or looping. I will give the stages of development characteristic of a child:

  1. habit - instilled by parents;
  2. activities that push for changes in the usual way of life;
  3. positive emotions - they strengthen the effect;
  4. creation;
  5. assessment of achievements.

How not to become addicted

Sometimes a person experiences a constant desire that develops into addiction, for example: to eat or sleep a lot. This is facilitated by psychological and physical health problems. There is a whole list of mental illnesses that are associated with food. Such diseases have the abbreviation Eating Disorder, which stands for eating disorder. This includes:

  • excessive thinness (anorexia);
  • bulimia with unhealthy weight control;
  • binge eating;
  • desire for healthy and proper nutrition;
  • bigorexia.

A specialist will help you cope with such deviations. If you do not contact him in time, additional mental disorders may occur:

  • depression;
  • neurosis;
  • anxiety;
  • PTSD.

Excessive appetite also indicates hormonal diseases in the body that occur when taking any medications. If you notice a constant craving for food and this has been going on for a long time, immediately consult a doctor for help. Such a frequent need for food and sleep is a sign of various kinds of psychological or physical disorders. For example, people suffering from chronic health problems need rest more than healthy individuals. However, in a strong body, a condition such as hypersomnia (excessive sleep and the manifestation of constant drowsiness) can occur. It manifests itself after stressful situations, during a long period without relaxation, or when taking medications. It can also occur for the following reasons:

  • head injury;
  • depression;
  • uremia;
  • apnea.

In order not to be a hostage to the needs of physiology, listen to your body and prevent alarming signals by contacting a doctor or psychotherapist.

Basic ways and means of satisfaction

Without the ability to fulfill biological needs, the human species simply cannot survive. Other, higher categories make a person out of an individual, and therefore are also very important. But the more psychologically developed a person is, the more discomfort she experiences when she cannot satisfy spiritual pursuits. If a suitable method has not been discovered, then various reactions begin to operate, for example, rejection or replacement. The first involves giving up (intentionally or uncontrollably) what you want, and the second involves replacing one task with another, less complex one.

I will present the means of realizing intentions:

  • formation of a connection between a stimulus and a subsequent event;
  • specific assignment of activities to a given goal, that is, the search for a standard solution;
  • analysis of what the intention consists of, analysis of its motives into components - they are easier to satisfy;
  • socialization, subordination of the individual to the norms and rules of culture and society.

Explanation of concepts

Biological needs are the most significant and valuable, as they ensure life. Even a slight denial of satisfaction can lead to negative consequences (illness, organ system disorders, weakness, death).

A need is a request that must be immediately fulfilled in order for the individual to feel good:

  • felt protected;
  • was important to others;
  • functioned normally without any disruptions to the body;
  • achieved goals and made dreams come true;
  • felt satisfied.

Human physical needs are a type of need, failure to fulfill which leads to loss of life. If a person cannot support them, he will lose the opportunity to achieve goals, and if they are not satisfied at all, diseases and dysfunctions of the body will appear, which will lead to unnamed death (this does not apply to the desire for procreation).

Examples of biological queries:

  • eating high-calorie foods for energy and sustenance;
  • rest and sleep;
  • air;
  • liquid;
  • desires of a sexual nature and procreation.

They are the lowest needs. They are required to be performed not only by human beings, but also by representatives of the entire animal world, even insects. However, in the simplest organisms this list is not so large.

Signs of successful implementation of intentions

You can be sure that everything is going right if a person has the following traits:

  • harmonious development;
  • contact and understanding with nature and the surrounding world;
  • respect, love for yourself and people;
  • socialization;
  • a firm and pragmatic approach to problem solving;
  • individuality;
  • the ability to experience deep feelings - love, strong friendship.

Maslow's theory - in brief

What is a pyramid in Maslow's theorem?

Psychologists and psychotherapists of the early and mid-20th century were aimed primarily at studying deviations from the norm, and areas related to the study of mentally healthy people, their needs, difficulties, and developmental characteristics were not studied as actively.

Abraham Maslow (pictured) was one of those researchers who worked in the field of studying mental norms and everything connected with it.

Abraham was born into a family of Jewish immigrants in 1908, and his childhood was difficult: he was an outcast among his peers due to pronounced Jewish features in his appearance and spent most of his free time reading books.

Abraham's thirst for knowledge helped him greatly: he became one of the most outstanding students at school, and then entered law college. But he was not destined to become a lawyer: realizing his love for psychology, he changed educational institutions.

Abraham was initially attracted to the ideas of behaviorism, but later became interested in other approaches and founded humanistic psychology.

The first concept of human needs was outlined by Abraham Maslow in the early 40s of the 20th century, but later he returned to it several times and refined it.

Initially, when describing human needs, the American sociologist Maslow identified a number of the most essential and sorted them into levels (see

picture), depending on the degree of importance for a comfortable existence

If a person does not properly satisfy the “lower” needs, he will not be able to fully satisfy the “higher” ones and, in principle, may not feel that this needs to be done. It's hard to have the need to enjoy beautiful pictures if you're constantly hungry.

Later, as it was refined, the concept became more advanced and received two additional levels of higher needs.

Popular message topics

  • Profession programmer A programmer is a person who writes computer software. The term programmer can refer to a specialist in one field of computer programming or to a generalist
  • Wood (Conifer) Many trees require different amounts of heat. Coniferous trees do not require special heat. They grow in the cold northern part and form coniferous forests, denoting the taiga. Coniferous trees are called
  • Norway There are many legends and stories about Norway. Some of this is true, and maybe it’s completely fiction. Although it is considered to be a northern country, it is almost no different in many respects from other countries. There is a great abundance of different resorts here,

Scientists' approaches

Philosophers of ancient times studied needs. The first who managed to decompose the concept into a coherent structure is considered to be the American psychologist Abraham Maslow. According to his ideology, the desires of an individual are arranged in the form of an ascending ladder or spiral:

TOP 2 articles that are read along with this

  • 1. Social essence of man
  • 2. Man, individual, personality, individuality
  • lower biological;
  • highest spiritual ones.

The hierarchical theory of the order of building desires is described in the works of a psychologist.

Other authors propose to explain the nature of the need in a different way:

  • need - L. Brentano;
  • satisfying what the need arose - V. Lezhnev;
  • value, benefit - V. Magun;
  • necessity - D. Leontyev;
  • tension - I. Dzhidaryan;
  • reaction - J. Schwanzer;
  • contradiction between reality and necessity - B. Porshnev.

It is interesting that all the authors, analyzing the nature of the concept, agree on one point: any needs develop a person, make him active. The topic “Needs” is considered in science as the engine of human evolution.

( 1 rating, average 4 out of 5 )
Did you like the article? Share with friends:
For any suggestions regarding the site: [email protected]
Для любых предложений по сайту: [email protected]