Saturday, June 25, 2022

Part 1 ~ Physiological

Needs and Wants


This is a five-part series that explains motivation and clarifies the differentiation between needs and wants. Reference to Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is helpful to understand why we are motivated to make certain choices. 

Our research reveals that self-motivation is a key factor in wealth formation. We are driven to satisfy needs and our motivation is contingent on the level and urgency of need. It is not uncommon to confuse needs with wants.  

One practical way to assess self-motivation and resulting behavior is to review Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” which serves as a means to readily differentiate between needs and wants. This is fully explained in his book, Motivation and Personality. 

The extent to which these needs are met will vary contingent upon one’s environmental circumstances. Cultural factors, socio-economic conditions, socialism and capitalism, drive quality of life. For more on this topic read Hofstede’s article, “The cultural relativity of the quality of life concept” in the Academy of Management Review 9 (3). 

At the most basic level, our needs are sustenance, water, some form of shelter, air, elimination, sleep and sex for procreation. All creatures have these basic needs. However, humans living in industrialized nations experience frequent confusion between needs and wants. Consequently, wants are perceived as needs. If given a choice, who would opt for basic nourishment over a fine meal? 

Marketers employing traditional forms of promotion through state-of-the-art social media, bombard us with messages of persuasion that wants are our essential needs. 

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Every day we make choices related to food consumption. Should we eat at home or dine out? Of course, dining in or out will satisfy the need for food and likely a whole lot more. The kitchen table not only provides a place for meal consumption, but a gathering place for family and/or friends to socially interact. The same may be said of dining out in a restaurant. Trends derived by the Economic Research Service of the US Department of Agriculture indicate that even in tight economic times, restaurants and their food and beverage services are quite popular to surpass basic needs along with opportunities for socializing. However, there are disparities based on income. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, high-income households spend half of their food budget on food away from home. Households in the lowest income quintile spend about one third (34%) of their food budget for food away from home. 

Wants typically dominate needs. And that is not a bad thing, within reason. 

Assuredly, there are many products and services that will offer the promise of exceptional satisfaction to fill the most basic of needs.  

The point of illustrating deliberate confusion of needs and wants is that we are led into temptation to purchase items that satisfy basic needs, but these extensively promoted products go beyond filling just fundamental needs and may cost many times more than alternatives. Would a less expensive substitute product satisfy the need? If so, and such choices are made, indeed more disposable and/or discretionary income is retained.  

Part 2, in this series, addresses fulfilling our Safety Needs. 

All of the Millionaire Choices articles are available from 

Be sure to follow the Millionaire Choices advice columns for your personalized lifestyle enhancements. 

We encourage questions to be submitted through our website using the Contact Us option. All submissions are treated with complete confidentiality and respondents’ names are never used. 

New York Times bestselling author William D. Danko and Richard J. Van Ness, wrote the research-based book, Richer Than A Millionaire ~ A Pathway to True Prosperity, which shows the way to wealth and happiness through embracing traditional values. Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary selected this book as, The Color of Money Book of the Month. The $9 Billion Vanguard Charitable fund website featured our book. 

Content appearing in this article is inspired by the authors’ book, which is available at and bookstores. Visit the authors’ website,  

Note to Professors and Teachers Complimentary ancillary materials are available for classroom use with adoption of our book. Visit our website for details by using the services tab. 

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