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Difference Between a Want and a Need

word_power_bookWant vs Need

When it comes to owning or acquiring certain things, people would often use the terms ‘want’ and ‘need’ interchangeably. In many cases, the manner in which people would use these two terms can lead one to perceive that these two have similar meanings, if not mean absolutely just the same thing. But actually, these two economic terminologies are very different from each other.

A need is generally referred to, in economics, as something that is extremely necessary for a person to survive. If a need is not met, it would lead to the onset of disease, the inability to function effectively and efficiently in society, and even death. Needs are categorized into two groups. There are the objective or physical needs, and the subjective needs. Objective needs are those that are met through tangible things, or things that could be measured. Examples of these include food, water, shelter and even air. On the other hand, subjective needs are those that are often seen to ensure our mental health. Examples of these are self-esteem, a sense of security and approval. A political professor, named Ian Gough, enumerated eleven distinct needs that must be met by each and every human being in order to function well in society, and to survive. The inability of meeting these needs can lead to a person suffering from illness (either physically or mentally), or even death.

On the other hand, a want is something that a person desires, either immediately or in the future. Unlike needs, wants are those that differ from one person to another. For example, one person may want to own a car, while another may want to travel to an exotic country. Each person has his or her own list of wants, each with a varying level of importance. Furthermore, wants can change over a period of time. This is in contrast to needs, which remain constant throughout the lifetime of the person.

The grey area between these two, is when the desire to obtain a particular thing is so extremely great, that a person may misinterpret a want, and see it more as a need. In order to know whether what you desire for is a want or a need, is to basically ask one fundamental question: “Have you been able to survive without this?” If your answer is ‘yes’, then what you desire for is a want, no matter how much you crave for it right now.


1. Wants and needs are economic terminologies.

2. A need is something that is necessary for a person to survive. On the other hand, a want refers to something that a person desires, either right now or in the future.

3. Wants are desires that are optional, meaning that you will still be able to go on living, even if the want is not met. On the other hand, if a particular need is not met, it could lead to a person suffering from illness, or even death.

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  2. thank you

  3. I learned that if you need some something you have to survive for example:water,food,air and we leraned that a want is something you don’t need but you want you disire the thing that you want

  4. Inquiry: I would like to know whether the author’s first name is Manisha or Kumar. If Manisha is the author’s first name, then the MLA citation provided is incorrect. MLA citation requires the following format to cite the author: (last name, first name). Please note this comment and provide any necessary corrections. Your audience would appreciate your help. Thank you.

  5. Asking questions are actually nice thing if you are not understanding anything entirely,
    except this post offers good understanding yet.

  6. There is a difference in want and need. Marketers focus on needs so they can stimulate people to buy their products that’s why we should always ask ourselves “do I really NEED that?”

    Thanks 🙂

  7. God said in his word…I shall supply your need according to my riches in glory.
    But most people want wanr want

  8. I would like subscribe to daily comparisons , topics , articles , posts day by day . please keep me updated by sending e-mail s comparisons about all fields day by day .

  9. Difference between grab and grip,jump and dive,hold and keep,experiment and experience,stuff and things,later and latter,miss and lose,prevent and avoid.

  10. Family, love, the touch of someones hand on my back, saying Im here for u, the sense of feeling secure etc,,, is that wants or needs? Some say Im selfish for wanting these things and ignore or yell at me.

  11. Good

  12. That’s just great

  13. We learn alot of Best Useful Materials.

  14. I appreciate a wonderful work done in
    given out information through this site.

  15. Thanks for clarifying the subject matter. I really benefited. It’s high time we distinguish between what we actually need and want and stop leaving a wasteful lifestyle.
    Our needs is what God is committed to and not our wants according to Phillipians 4:19.
    Thanks and God bless you.

  16. The term has been misunderstood by many. Needs are emotional factors that trigger wants. When people are hungry (the need) they look for something to satisfy it – the want (specific dish considering their culture).
    Missing the explanation of the different types of needs, example: Maslow Needs. The Esteem needs as you say, is really a “survival” one? In terms, it could be, considering better psychological health. But the main point here is to understand that the needs are abstract emotional factors that lead people to search for a solution to it, desiring (wanting) something (product/service) to fulfill. Like a cell phone (want) to fulfill the social need.

    Take a further look at Philip Kotler’s definition: https://ipsedu.in/downloads/MBABooks/principles-of-marketing-philip-kotler.pdf page 10.

  17. Really happy to be here

  18. For A thought of my delusional mine is selfish of me to say it to be for me but rather for our life on earth.So my want and need is for everyone and me last to. Put everything else first.So if I can be of greater help to us all for a better future life as a hole than you all decide what is best if or if not anything at all.And turn it awayike in the bible and say done or did.Thank you everyone.

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