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Human Wants| Their characteristics - A study of Needs, Comforts and Luxuries

Updated on April 18, 2016
Venkatachari M profile image

Venkat is well experienced in Accounts & Economics . He dealt with Balance Sheets, Budgets, Cost sheets, Financial statements for 25 years.

Significance of Human Wants

Human wants do play the most significant role in our economy and thereby control all the actions and relationships between people and their results keep impacting our society and the whole world or planet.

The more we indulge in satisfying our wants, the more we utilize the natural resources and may find ourselves drying up all the resources leaving nothing for our future generations to come.

So, it becomes dire necessity to control our wants by identifying and understanding what are our needs, comforts and luxuries and earmarking the reasonable levels of satisfying them.

Distinguish Wants from Desires

None of us are without any desires. Even, I would rather say, we always experience numerous desires emerging within us every moment. They are mostly like dreams that you want to achieve in real life. Even a beggar or a pavement dweller desires as many things as a rich billionaire does. So, desires are not bothered about your position and status.

But when some of those desires get the backup of some money and your purchasing capacity to accomplish them, they become to be referred to as wants. Wants always need to have some monetary or other sources of support to accomplish them and also the willingness to purchase them. So money power added with some willingness to spend on them transform your desires into wants.

One should be able to realize this fact and earmark his wants that need to be satisfied out of those innumerable desires. So, let us study here the characteristics and classification of human wants for being able to manage our wants perfectly.

Wants are at times awful necessities

Even this woman has many desires and wants to fulfil them besides enough food.
Even this woman has many desires and wants to fulfil them besides enough food. | Source

Major differences between Wants and Desires

Desires are mostly instincts and lack reasonability. But wants develop from desires in a reasonable manner according to earning capacity and living conditions.

Desires are not backed by purchasing power. But wants are based on purchasing power of the individual, either immediate or future capacities.

Moreover, wants need your willingness to purchase besides the backup of purchasing power.

All desires do not get satisfied, whereas, most of the wants get satisfied during one's lifetime.

Characteristics of Human Wants

Wants are not static. They keep on increasing and changing according to many factors.

  • Wants are unlimited in number and more emergent wants have an edge over others.
  • Wants are satiable (get satisfied) by consumption.
  • Some wants are recurring in nature like eating food daily.
  • Some wants are free in nature like water, air, etc. until they become commercialised. They are known as non-economic wants.
  • Wants vary according to culture, civilization, and the environment.
  • Wants get changing or improving along with advancement in economy and technology.

One great Economist- Karl Marx

Karl Marx was a great economist who advocated for socialisation of economy and resources for common benefits of all classes.
Karl Marx was a great economist who advocated for socialisation of economy and resources for common benefits of all classes. | Source

Types of human wants

Human wants are classified into necessities, comforts, and luxuries based on the urgency of their satisfaction.

Some of the factors deciding urgency vary according to the time, place, culture and development of the society where you live.

But, you should determine your own emergencies and try to avoid more superfluous wants for the overall benefits of society.

What are your basic needs or Necessities?

The most basic requirements needed for sustaining your life are known as 'Necessities'. They are the dire necessities without which you can not live. You need food, shelter and clothing basically. Some examples include a plate of meals, water to drink, air to breathe, either any of one room or two room house or some kind of shelter to protect self from heat and cold, some pairs of clothes etc. So, anything that provides you with dire necessities of life is the most prominent need that you should want to accomplish in priority before all other wants.

Why Comforts are considered important also?

Comforts are those goods and services that provide you with some relief in living your life. They make things easy for you. For example, a bicycle or bike for travel, a fan or cooler for air, furniture & bed for rest, mixie and other tools for the kitchen, a visit to hair-saloon or to a movie, etc., these are some of the comforts we enjoy. They may not be necessities as you can live without them. But, they are regarded as important wants because they keep both our body and mind comfortable by freeing from tensions.

About Luxuries

What are luxuries enjoyed by people? A want is classified as a luxury when it is a very costly and superfluous item. They are considered as more than enough for anybody's life. Even it is a sheer wastage of money and resources. A dinner in a 5-star hotel, a luxurious car, a superfluous bungalow, a lavish party, clothes costing thousands of dollars and costly jewellery all these are examples of how people spend luxuriously while most people are even unable to meet their dire necessities of life.

Charles Fourier, great Economist (Utopian Economics)

He was a social economist associated with "utopian economics" influencing many  modern economists
He was a social economist associated with "utopian economics" influencing many modern economists | Source

Table illustrating bifurcation of Wants

Any food
Good, tasty food
Lavish, expensive dishes
Enough, but normal clothes
Good looking and extra sets
Extremely glamorous dresses
Any shelter or home
Comfortable home
Lavish bungalows
Minimum furniture
Good, ample furniture
Lavish costly furniture
Newspaper, Radio, TV
LCD, Computer
Expensive entertainings
Normal Haircut, shave
AC saloons
Costly Beauty Parlour

The above are some of the examples to demarcate the nature of wants that should be classified as necessities, comforts or luxuries based on present circumstances of the standard of living.

What do you Think

Is it proper to indulge in satisfying your most comfortable and luxurious wants?

See results

One influential Economist- Alfred Marshall

Alfred Marshall was one of the most influential economists who authored Principles of Economics in 1890.
Alfred Marshall was one of the most influential economists who authored Principles of Economics in 1890. | Source

Excessive satisfaction of Wants leads to draining up of Resources

  • Wants are ever growing. As you satisfy one, the other one emerges. It is an endless process.
  • So, they keep on creating demand for more and more goods and services.
  • The ever increasing demand results in increased production.
  • Production is made through consumption of resources.
  • But available resources are always less than the demand for production.
  • Eventually, increased production will lead to drained up resources.
  • One day, you will be facing a situation where there will be no more resources to carry on the production.
  • Hence, it is necessary to keep our wants within some limits, allowing only more reasonable ones to be satisfied and others discarded.

Problem of Scarcity & Choice

How to Control Wants and what to Do?

It may be very difficult to control wants. It requires much determination and willpower along with a feeling of concern for the good of society.

Try to employ some reasoning power while satisfying the wants as to the worthiness of those wants demanding satisfaction. Can't you avoid some of those and thereby save some resources for your unprivileged people or for your coming generations?

Because, whenever you demand more goods, there is more probability for the prices to increase besides draining of the resources. Price increase means, that poorer sections do not have access to those goods. So, indirectly, you are depriving them of their needs.

The more you indulge in satisfying wants, the more you will suffer as you have to acquire more wealth by doing more labour. Having lesser wants will give you more satisfaction and result in happiness.

Look at other people in your society and outside of your society. See how they are living and what wants they are satisfying. Study and learn about resources available and rate of consumption within a period. Estimate the results if this trend continues for long.

Even if you can see at your own monthly budget and/ or your country's annual budgets, you will come to know the actual position.

Look at the poor and needy people and why they are unable to meet even their necessities. Who are at fault for these circumstances?

Your government is helpless because of the activities of some of the core sections of society who overlook the bare realities and produce goods and services only for the affordable classes or who indulge in unnecessary lavish spendings not caring for the common good.

If we really want to care and feel concerned, then only can we save something for our future generations or for providing services to these poorer classes of society!

So, let us try to limit the satisfaction of our wants and do some good to the needy people and save our Mother Earth from being drenched out of the resources.


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    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you, Elijah, for your detailed and wonderful analysis of the need factor and the desires and wants of men and human beings. I appreciate this enlightening discussion of the needs. You made my points very clear. Thanks a lot.

    • The0NatureBoy profile image

      Elijah A Alexander Jr 

      3 years ago from Washington DC

      As a "NatureBoy" I've discovered desires and wants in excess of life requirements are generally wasteful therefore I have established three classes, desires, needs and wants.

      When we look at the "supposed" fact that man once lived as any other animal - meaning "a life form having the power of mobility" including man or human/woman - with most not having a permanent dwelling, none having to make clothes and footwear, and a vast percent lives in the environment most of the year, then add how man are said to be able to exceed the ability of the earth and all things hereon, I say everything other than air, water, food and the understanding man are a member of earth's environment are needs, the other are wants and desires.

      What we do not take into consideration is we are able to condition other animals to accept things they normally would not do and how the instructions of most parents, religions, schools and all jobs are such conditionings as we do other life types. Example; many cultures no longer breast feed their children but use other animals' milk for children's nursing, adolescents - when a child is weaned but not adult for childbearing - and adults continue ingesting milk until death. That's contrary to other mammals making milk is a desire and want past the weaning a man child has developed the second set of teeth, at about 12 years of age. Using another animal's milk is for satisfying a selfish desire/want in man.

      I also understand that is because there are few man on earth, most are human ands woman - both's lowest common definition is they are "minds unable to comprehend all things" because of being cut from (human) and woven from man (woman) - and are designed that way to experience every conceivable attribute of man via reincarnation. However, for those of us who are seeking enlightenment it behooves us to learn the purpose for wants and desires over needs is for that purpose alone.

      I did enjoyed your presentation, except for the missing "need" aspect I totally concur.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      I appreciate your thoughts and practices, DreamOn.

    • DREAM ON profile image

      DREAM ON 

      3 years ago

      A very comprehensive and detailed hub. I personally found if I shift my desires of materialistic things to desires of the mind. An example of this would be I want a new car. Instead of actually wanting the new car and buying it I transform my thoughts into what I really want. I break my wants down clearer and more precise. What I really want is a car that is dependable and looks nice. I don't need all the extras I call them luxuries. By buying something more affordable and economical I also can free up my time which is money I would have to pay for the more expensive car. I can also desire other things. Having more free time because I don't have to pay for all the things I turned from desires to wants. I changed my thoughts along the way and found I needed a lot less to be just as happy or happier. Because everywhere you look advertisers are always trying to sell the greatest and best next thing. It is easy to get caught up. I found when I do more things like exercise and spend time with nature I am less driven by materialistic things. These are only my experiences and I think that my money left over could be put to better use helping someone else in need. Thank you for writing and sharing. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      It's true that Wants are unlimited in number and they, including necessities, drive all our actions. We always try to satisfy as many of our wants as possible. And, in that pursuit, we often miss the real enjoyment of those wants.

      We try to earn more and more income to satisfy many of those unwanted, superfluous wants. This creates a deep gap in the structure of the economy with drastic variations from person to person and place to place. This is very harmful to the economy as a whole. Many people will be deprived of even their basic needs.

      I wanted to point out to this part of the deprivation of the basic needs of a section of the people due to the superfluous consumption activities of affluent classes.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 

      3 years ago from Ohio

      Wants and necessities do drive the world. At times it is very difficult to separate our wants from our necessities. You bring out some very good points. :)

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Yes, Marie. Most of the people forget about the needs of other lesser privileged human beings and mostly indulge in self-satisfaction and excessive consumptions of goods thereby causing wastage and loss to the already depleted resources of the economy. This ultimately results in inflation and soaring prices. The economically poor and deprived communities are unable to meet even their bare necessities of food and shelter.

      We must become more humanistic in our approaches and try to be more sensitive and reasonable in our thoughts and actions.

      Thanks for your nice comment.

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      It is so refreshing to listen to your voice of reason, of discipline and of altruistic aims.

      It has all but been lost these last few centuries.

      Thank you for reminding us of a better way of living.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      3 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      True, Gilbert. We should be more reasonable in our spending habits and at the same time be generous to the needy people. Whenever we are indulging in excess consumption and thereby causing some wastage of materials, we should rather donate the extra items or money to those deprived classes of people.

      Thanks for your visit and nice comment.

    • rebelogilbert profile image

      Gilbert Arevalo 

      3 years ago from Hacienda Heights, California

      Yes, I agree; balance is extremely important. It's good to dress well, but if the price paid is outrageous, take the middle of the road, and make a charitable donation. I don't mind helping people get work, but if unsafe pipe lines are constructed, causing dangerous oil spills, polluting our ocean, I'd rather not have it.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      4 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Yes, Martie Coetzer. My purpose was to pinpoint this fact of keeping some balance between wants and desires and to spend only on needs and minimum comforts that are essential for human being. Resources need to be saved for future generations and for those who are not in access of them currently.

      Thanks for your visit and nice comment.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 

      4 years ago from South Africa

      Very interesting and thought-provoking article. Keeping a sound balance is important. I'm sharing this with my friends.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Nice to hear from you, Chitra. Your attitude is great. A desire to help those in need is a beautiful mentality. I appreciate you. Everybody should think in these terms. Thanks for the nice comment. My blessings to you and your family.

    • ChitrangadaSharan profile image

      Chitrangada Sharan 

      5 years ago from New Delhi, India

      Excellent and insightful hub with deep thoughts! Somehow I missed reading this wonderful hub.

      I personally believe in satisfying the needs first and fortunately or unfortunately I am a very satisfied person and do not get carried away by 'desires'. There is always a desire to help others who are not so fortunate to have the basic needs of life.

      You have beautifully explained the differences. Thank you for sharing !

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you Missy. I am very glad to read your nice comment. You are true that people get lost in those pursuits of materialistic pleasures. They don't realise that happiness and satisfaction are more important than accumulation of materialistic enjoyments. You are a nice person. I regard you much. Thanks for the visit and nice comment. Blessings.

    • Missy Smith profile image

      Missy Smith 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Very interesting article Venkatachari. I have always been about the simple things in life and never really wanted to go overboard with excess. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking was one reason my relationships broke up. My partners were always caught up with wants. Too many wants. They could not focus on the simple wants that would sustain and could make one happy. They stopped believing they could. They lived in this materialistic world and felt they had to somehow have better than the next Joe. I don't blame them, it's very easy to get lost in that train of thought, but I am very thankful that somehow I still only cared about the necessities of life. The simple type of life. I think it is fine to indulge every once in a while. I mainly will indulge from time to time on my children instead of myself. I'm a giver and never really knew how to be a selfish receiver.

      This is an important subject and I am glad I came across it. :)

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thanks for the visit and for following me. Marx has been a great thinker and propagated common man's economy. Being a socialistic is a good quality. He thinks for the welfare of people and for the growth of common man. People should praise such a person, not condemn. I try to bring awareness among people towards human values and ethics and good lifestyles. I am much happy to see you like my views and for thinking about forming a group called "the new world party".

    • B Brian Hill profile image

      B Brian Hill 

      5 years ago

      Hi Venkatachari,

      What a beautifully constructed Hub! I have been reading of the 6 human needs by Cloe Madanes: Certainty, Uncertainty, significance, connection, growth and contribution. I love the detail that you go into about wants. Here in the US, the right has made "Marx" a bad word and the are repulsed by Sanders as a "socialist." It is a force of propaganda not unlike last century. Your hub is so intelligently written that I was absorbed in it, and have ordered the "Marx/Engels reader to follow up. I do think that the like minds of the world like you and I are going to have to form our own group called "the New World Party" so that we can begin to address the issues that you so completely covered in your article. If we the people do not begin to change this weapons buildup and corporate madness, what is to become of us?

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      True, there is so much wastage and unnecessary consumption of everything, not only food. People should become more aware of all this.

      Thanks for your visit and comment.

    • 10000001 profile image

      madugundu krishna 

      5 years ago from Yemmiganur

      Real, Many poor people are living in the world. some rich people are wasting the food.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      That's what I am worrying about. If we spend everything unnecessarily only for superfluous glamor and prestige, what about all those poor fellows and what about our coming generations? We should care for them also and not too much selfish.

    • shprd74 profile image

      Hari Prasad S 

      5 years ago from Bangalore

      Sir, philosophically you are right but economically it is impossible to stop people from going for luxuries.

      We are seeing countries going popper. We are seeing people without work. All this is result of global economy which basically is partly a hoax and makes countries spend like no tomorrow.

      people of those countries may be getting richer for a decade or a century, while the natural resources will be plundered. By the turn of the century no one will be able afford anything nor sell as they would have spent such exhorbitant amounts that countries would die of loans like Greece.

      So it sends us back to what you have mentioned need, and not luxury.

      Thought provoking.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thanks Akriti, for your visit and nice comment

    • Akriti Mattu profile image

      Akriti Mattu 

      5 years ago from Shimla, India


    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you for visiting, my friend. But, you can not say like that. It depends on circumstances. TV and newspaper can be necessities for passing your time and keeping your moods okay. Otherwise, you may feel alone and bored and become depressed also with negative thoughts, if you do not have any occupation. It depends person to person. One should not generalise things. We can only express our thoughts and tell people to ponder upon these tips and decide themselves as to what is necessary or luxury, but one should be very honest and have concern for society.

      Thanks for commenting and voting.

    • Buildreps profile image


      5 years ago from Europe

      Very interesting article, and well thought through. We consciously dumped TV and newspaper out of our household, because we don't consider them as necessities, and are part of the mind controlling media. Just a radio is enough for us. Voted up!

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you very much for the visit and such a nice comment.

    • TIMETRAVELER2 profile image

      Sondra Rochelle 

      5 years ago from USA

      This is an extremely well crafted article full of wonderful wisdom. It is unfortunate that so many in today's world do not understand the value of simplicity and finding contentment in "less". Voted up.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you, Parul, for visiting and commenting.

    • sriv profile image

      Parul Srivastava 

      5 years ago from Lucknow,India

      Very well written.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you, Chris. I am very happy seeing your great reply. You understood the full essence of my article. Thanks for the visit and nice comment and sharing.

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 

      5 years ago from Traverse City, MI

      I am convinced that extravagant satisfying of our wants does drain the resources of our world. We are not 7 billion individuals whose lifestyles have no impact on our neighbor. We are an interrelated population that needs to realize we have a responsibility for those around us and those who will come in the future. Well done on this hub. I enjoyed it and am sharing it.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you Alicia. I think it is the time now to get awareness as to what needs need to be satisfied and to what extent. This is important for our social welfare and common cause.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a nice comment.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you Larry, for your visit and comment.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Yes, Dora. The levels vary person to person. Even then, one has to draw a line between needs and superfluous wants. He has to be conscious and restrain himself. I appreciate your visit and comment. Thanks for the same.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      This is a thought provoking hub. Exploring the differences between wants and needs is very important in today's world.

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 

      5 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great read.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      5 years ago from The Caribbean

      I think that the comfort and contentment level in people vary. Some never reach where they desire to be. One line I always remember from some one had it all, then loathed it is "Don't take more than you need." Your article gives very good explanations about needs and wants and the difference between them.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Great, Dana! It means you are conscious of it. Thanks for the visit and comment. Have a wonderful day.

    • Dana Tate profile image

      Dana Tate 

      5 years ago from LOS ANGELES

      A friend once commented that I never cry about needing money. I told her its because I always take care of my needs first. I want many things but if I cater to that and neglect my needs the thing I wanted can't. Be enjoyed because I would be suffering. Because of the things I need.

    • Venkatachari M profile imageAUTHOR

      Venkatachari M 

      5 years ago from Hyderabad, India

      Thank you, Bill. You are exactly right. That's what all of us should do. Then only can our future generations also have the resources to enjoy their desires.

      Thanks for the visit, comment and blessings.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      A very interesting read, my friend. We concentrate our limited income on needs....a few desires to satisfy the cravings, but most of our life is centered around basic needs and finding enjoyment and peace in the simple life.

      Blessings to you this weekend


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