Needs, Concept need in Psychology - General Psychology


After studying this chapter, the student must:


• what is the problem of needs;

• the hypothesis about needs as life tasks;

• the composition of needs and their distribution by levels;

be able to

• Analyze life problems (needs);


• the ability to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of modern ideas about needs.

Who achieves only material well-being, he reaps fruits for whose sake it is not worth living.

A. de Saint-Exupéry

The concept of need in psychology

In the next few chapters, we will discuss the issues of determination of behavior.

• For what do living beings act?

• Why do they choose this behavior?

• What determines the chosen way of behavior?

• What is the reason and reason for the beginning of the behavior?

• What mental processes are involved in the generation of actions? and so on

The answers to these questions are traditionally discussed in such sections of general psychology as "Needs and motivation", "Emotions and will". Data from the sections "Perception", "Mind", "Attention" and "Attention" are also drawn. and Memory & quot ;. Attempts to find an explanation of behavior in emotional and cognitive processes once again testify to the unity of the psyche, designed to serve the behavior, and hence the life of living beings.

Usually, when answering the question about the causes of behavior, they refer to the needs of living beings, whose need for satisfaction causes the necessary behavior. We shall not now disassemble the incorrectness of such a plausible solution to the problem of causality of behavior, but let us take from this position for analysis the fact of an unequivocal connection between the needs and behavior of living beings. We will remind only that behavior arises in evolution as one of the ways of adaptation and before its appearance living beings solved their vital tasks without participation of behavior. But if we do not take into account the cases of unmotivated, as a rule, pathological behavior, then we must admit that behavior can always find some need of a living being or society (groups, classes), in whose relations a person is included, so that his inclusion corresponds to his personal needs. This situation is explained by the fact that behavior in evolution arises as a new way of satisfying the needs or solving adaptive tasks, as the transformation of the initially given ability of the living to activity in adaptive activity. Behavior does not appear because there are needs, but because in certain circumstances of life, needs can not be met without the help of behavior.

We begin our analysis with the concept of "need".

Once a need was understood as the main property, the most important characteristic of a living being (its attribute), which distinguished the living from the inanimate, although the concept of "need" was introduced; as a sign of attraction to something. In the XX century. this concept was considered either as an objective state of a living being (sometimes written about a person) characterized by a shortage, a deficit, a shortage of necessary conditions of existence (food, water, a breeding partner, etc.) or as a subjective experience of a living being in the form of a feeling of hunger , thirst, sexual tension, drowsiness, etc.

Both in the first and in the second sense there are difficulties that can not be solved, remaining within the framework of these notions of needs. If we need to recognize the objective condition of a living being, which can even be quantified, for example in the form of nutrient reserves (fat, carbohydrates) or water (the concentration of substances in the blood creating osmotic pressure); then you can not understand the that and where is missing at the aesthetic needs with research and educational needs, when in communication or security needs, while playing the needs or requirements in motion. In such needs there is no norm, the deviation from which could be estimated as a deficit.

But even when understanding the needs as subjective experiences of attraction to anything, much can not be explained. In particular, it is unclear what is reflected in these subjective experiences (some objective state of a living being or something else)? Why do not we experience every need? For example, the absence of oxygen is not experienced by a person as a defect (choking is experienced, excess carbon dioxide, which is not the same thing). The danger associated with strong radioactive or ultraviolet radiation is not experienced in any way. And it remains unclear what to do with plants, which, like living organisms, by definition, should have a set of needs. Either it is necessary to agree that plants, like animals, have subjective experiences, or deprive plants of their needs. Both decisions are unacceptable.

It is clear that the described approaches to understanding needs contain something right, but the difficulties, which we just mentioned, indicate that these definitions can at best be related to the need for reality. Our task is to find not the arithmetic mean of all definitions of needs (they will be about one hundred), but the main sign of the reality with which the concept of "need" is intuitively linked. But first of all, we must single out the reality that could be compared with this concept.

Find such a reality and highlight its main feature, and therefore, to understand the essence of the reality we are examining, it is possible only by analyzing the activity of living beings. Using this method, which Λ has often addressed. N. Leontiev, we must distinguish in the life processes of organisms such a reality that would have the main property of what we intuitively, as a theoretical construct, is introduced into psychology called "need". In other words, we need to stop guessing about the content of this concept, but to seek realities of life that fulfill the functions postulated by needs.

The main property of a living being as an open system is that it constantly restores itself, disintegrating as a result of the process of dissimilation. The process of assimilation needs an influx of energy and "building materials". (chemical elements and their compounds) from the medium. This is an objective need of every living organism. You can get energy and building materials separately (as, for example, do plants or some bacteria), you can get them in a connected form with food. What is important is that life stops without this process. This was well understood by Spinoza, noting: "The human body needs for its preservation in so many other bodies through which it continually seems to be reborn."

Hence the temptation to declare all the necessary conditions for existence is not just need, but needs. But this is a false decision. For example, all animals and cars moving in space need friction in order to be able to move. Does this mean that they have a need for friction?

For us it is more important to understand something else. A living being can not but live. This is his final and main task. It is presented to him as a program to continue his own life. In a continuous process of providing yourself with the necessary conditions, three situations are possible:

1) Energy and building materials are always available, and the body, by virtue of its structure, constantly receives them from the environment, supporting its life;

2) energy and building materials disappear for a long time or forever, and no efforts of a living being can provide them, and then the organism dies;

3) Energy and building materials then they appear, then disappear because of the variability of the environment, and the organism can have the vital task of finding and providing itself with the necessary conditions for existence.

The latter situation can develop under two conditions: either the organism does not have a program for restoring itself, or it has such a program.

And now we can say that the need passes into the category of life tasks only when:

a) a living being has a program of self-healing or, in other words, an extension of his existence;

b) the conditions of the environment in which this living being exists and on which its existence depends, constantly change, creating uncertainty, but allowing (the probability) the organism to take hold of these necessary conditions.

What will happen if the body (or any body at all) does not have a program to maintain its existence? With the constancy and availability of necessary conditions, this organism (object) continues to function, and, in their absence, ceases to exist. Unfavorable changes in the environment do not create the task of finding the right conditions for this organism (object), and it dies.

What happens if, in the presence of an organism's self-healing program, the necessary conditions always exist? In this case, the organism exists, while the program and mechanism of self-healing operate and the task of providing oneself with the necessary conditions does not arise. If the necessary conditions of existence are absent or disappear for a long time, in this case the organism simply dies, since no activity to provide itself with the necessary conditions can lead to success. And so in this case the problem of finding the necessary conditions does not arise either, since it can not be solved positively.

The vital task of providing oneself with the necessary conditions of existence arises only if the organism has a program of self-healing and the variability of the environment creating an uncertainty, when the necessary conditions for the existence of a living being cease to be constantly available, but almost always there is the opportunity to find and obtain them. >

And now we must agree to consider the life tasks search for the necessary conditions of existence by what we intuitively call the "needs". We emphasize that we are not talking about the fact that we guessed what a need is. This problem, as we have already noted, is unsolvable, because one can not guess the nature of the theoretical construct or explanatory concept. We identified the reality of the vital processes of living beings, which is very similar to the theoretical construct by which we explain the activity of animals and their subjective experiences in the form of feelings of hunger, thirst, etc. With such a contract, the need will be understood as the vital task of a living being to provide himself with the necessary conditions of existence.

If we accept this assumption and understand needs as the vital tasks of living beings, then the needs will characterize not the living being, not his condition and deficiencies, but his relationship with the world in which he lives. It is the relationship of the living being with the environment of existence that gives rise to life's tasks that the living being must decide for his life to continue. From this it follows that needs characterize not a living thing in itself, but a relationship of a living being with the world, therefore the study of needs involves the isolation and analysis of these relationships.

Also We Can Offer!

Other services that we offer

If you don’t see the necessary subject, paper type, or topic in our list of available services and examples, don’t worry! We have a number of other academic disciplines to suit the needs of anyone who visits this website looking for help.

How to ...

We made your life easier with putting together a big number of articles and guidelines on how to plan and write different types of assignments (Essay, Research Paper, Dissertation etc)