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July 23, 2018 

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HIERARCHY OF NEEDS: Developed by Abraham Maslow, the notion that people are motivated to satisfy basic physiological needs (food, shelter, etc.) before moving on to satisfying higher psychological needs (security, companionship, etc.). These alternative needs are layered in a hierarchial pattern with physiological needs on the bottom, safety needs on the second layer, belonging needs on the third layer, esteem needs on the fourth layer, and self-actualization needs at the top. This hierarchy of needs has been used to help explain the progress of human societies from agrarian to manufacturing to service to information.

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NEEDS:

The physiological or biological requirements for maintaining life, such as air, water, food, shelter, and sleep. Physiological needs are often contrasted with psychological wants that make life more enjoyable, but are not essential for existence.
Satisfaction is achieved by fulfilling needs. The pursuit of satisfaction, the fulfillment of needs (as well as wants), motivates human behavior, including all types of economic behavior--buying, selling, producing, and consuming.

Consider a few examples.

  • Duncan Thurly, a normal human being, is hungry. This hunger need motivates him to purchase a Deluxe Club Sandwich from Manny Mustard's House of Sandwich. This results in the production of a Deluxe Club Sandwich by Manny Mustard, which also entails the purchase of meat, bread, condiments, and other assorted inputs. Once he consumes this sandwich, Duncan is still hungry, so he purchases a Hot Mamma Fudge Bananarama Ice Cream Sundae. This results in the production of the hot fudge sundae and also entails the purchase of ice cream, hot fudge topping, bananas, and other inputs. A great deal of economic activity is triggered by Duncan Thurly's hunger.

  • Duncan Thurly is also sleepy. The neighbor's dog has been barking incessantly for fourteen straight nights. The need for sleep motivates Duncan to purchase a new bed. He also buys a new radio that plays only soothing music. He then purchases a set of ear plugs. Because none of this works, he pays a company to remodel his bedroom, adding eight inches of sound-proofing insulation. He subsequently hires a real estate agent to sell his house. A great deal of economic activity is triggered by Duncan Thurly's need for sleep.

  • Duncan Thurly is further in need of shelter. Having sold his house, Duncan has no protection from the weather. The temperature has dropped to five below zero. Duncan is concerned about frostbite, hypothermia, and freezing to death. He breaks into the MegaMart Discount Super Center, finds the bed display and curls up for the night, warm and protected. This sets off burglar alarms and sends the police to investigate. Duncan is subsequently prosecuted and spends the next five years in prison. A great deal of economic activity is triggered by Duncan Thurly's need for shelter.

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Recommended Citation:

NEEDS, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2018. [Accessed: July 23, 2018].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | wants | unlimited wants and needs | consumer sovereignty |


Or For A Little Background...

     | scarcity | satisfaction | incentive | free lunch | resource allocation | value |


And For Further Study...

     | three questions of allocation | second rule of subjectivity | consumer sovereignty | good | service | needs standard | production possibilities | utility analysis | consumer demand theory | elasticity |


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