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June 17, 2021 

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A PRIORI: A presumption made before an analysis is undertaken, often based on experiences, beliefs, or deductions from seemingly self-evident propositions about how the world works. This is a Latin for assumption or axiom. A similar sounding, but opposite term is a posteriori, which is derived from observation or facts. For example, in the study of economics of crime you might assume, a priori, that people are basically "good", because that just seems to be part of human nature, and conclude, a posteriori, that people are more likely to commit crimes when the threat of capture and conviction is lower.

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WANTS:

The psychological desires which make life just a little more enjoyable, but which are not biological necessities for life. Psychological wants are often contrasted with physiological needs that make life more enjoyable, but are not essential for existence.
Satisfaction is achieved by fulfilling wants. The pursuit of satisfaction, the fulfillment of wants (as well as needs), motivates human behavior, including all types of economic behavior--buying, selling, producing, and consuming.

Consider a few examples.

  • Duncan Thurly, a normal human being, wants a late-night snack. He sees a commercial for Hot Mamma Fudge Bananarama Ice Cream Sundaes on late-night television. Duncan is not particularly hungry, he does not need food to continue his mortal existence, but he wants, he desires, he absolutely craves a Hot Mamma Fudge Bananarama Ice Cream Sundae. Within minutes he has driven to the Hot Mamma Fudge Ice Cream Shoppe to purchase a Hot Mamma Fudge Bananarama Ice Cream Sundae. Duncan's psychological desire to consume a Hot Mamma Fudge Bananarama Ice Cream Sundae has triggered more economic activity.

  • Duncan Thurly also desires a little entertainment. After consuming his tasty Hot Mamma Fudge Bananarama Ice Cream Sundae, Duncan decides to take in a midnight showing of the classic Marx Brothers comedy, Duck Soup. Duncan does not need to see a midnight showing of this movie, but watching it makes him happy. He buys a ticket and watches the movie. He feels better, more satisfied after the movie than before. Duncan's psychological desire for entertainment has triggered economic activity.

While wants are not considered necessary for continued existence, there is some evidence to suggest that psychological wants may be as necessary to life as physiological needs. For example, "wanting" to be with other people is often considered nice to have, but not essential to life. Studies of the neuro-physiology of the brain, however, suggest that companionship triggers the release of specific chemicals that when absent cause physiological problems.

Fortunately, doctors of economics (who are not doctors of neuro-physiology) need not be overly concerned with the difference between psychological wants and physiological needs. A market does not care if wants are necessary or not. The only consideration is that people are motivated to do things (go to work, make a purchase, get an education) to satisfy them. If Duncan is willing and able to pay $3 for a Hot Mamma Fudge Bananarama Ice Cream Sundae, it matters not if he needs it or just wants it.

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Recommended Citation:

WANTS, AmosWEB Encyclonomic WEB*pedia, http://www.AmosWEB.com, AmosWEB LLC, 2000-2021. [Accessed: June 17, 2021].


Check Out These Related Terms...

     | needs | 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 | good | service | needs standard | demand | market demand | demand price | market |


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