One of the most difficult problems facing social science is the division between "humanity" as a species and the human as an "individual". For Anthropologists this is even more difficult, since the anthropologist works in both dimension at the sametime, and further at different time periods within the event at the same time. This is the true essence of a "wholists approach."
The Needs, Wants, and Desires approach to human behavior reveals both human weaknesses and human power. Through the development of a complex coding system, language, humans are able to interact with one another on a meta-behavioral way. That is, human's are capable of framing actual events into a meta-code (language) that can be exchanged and shared with another human and human groups on multiple level -- emotional, consequential, mental and informational. And these individuals and groups may receive the message on different levels from that of the reporter.
It is this last ability that is both a positive and a negative in human affairs. It is the zone where differences in perception and evaluation between sender/reporter and receiver/responder can have both an affect and effect on the human interactions that follow the event.
Emotion sharing is the use of words and actions to define the "meaning" of an event experienced either by the individual witness/participant to the event or by repeating (describing) the emotional experience as reported to the speaker.
The consequential question and answers are: Did the individual or group experiencing the event NEED the subject of the events to survive the event? This may be reported by an informant or be witnessed by an observer.
If remembered, the event and response at stored and available for recall in similar situations. The ability to recall, creates a historic path and Mental image of the cause and effect relationships between the elements of the situation.
And finally, the remembered event, witnessed or reported, add to the informational experience available to the individual (individual learning) and to the collective experience of the group and thereby "re-lived" by the members in their own individual way.
The importance of the event to the individual(s) and to the group(s) is a function of the situational context and temporal duration of the event as well as the source of the information. It is the "importance" that is at the core of distinction between a Need, a Want, and a Desire.
The NEED is a defined as the presents or absence, real or imagined, of a required element for the successful or tragic outcome of an event required to maintain a status quo. Oxygen,water, food are examples of such elements.
The WANT is defined as a Choice or the Freedom to chose between alternative ways to meeting and achieving or fulling a NEED requirement. Free Oxygen from the environment or a tank of oxygen delivered through a ventilation system. Liquid potable water, fruit juice, milk, etc. any of these or similar forms could fulfill this NEED in sufficient quantities, etc.
The DESIRE is defined as a Preferred choice of a solution to a NEED that overrides or takes precedence over other suitable satisfaction of a NEED. A DESIRE is an emotional response to a situation where given the Freedom to chose a solution, the individual or group will favor one choice over all other equally satisfactory solutions to the problem caused by the NEED.
At this point, the Desired solution can become the preferred solution or the only acceptable solution. That is a NEED in itself.
It is NEEDS which drive individuals into forming groups and its is choice that creates groups that divide individuals and groups.
This is the basis of what social and biological scientist describe as the life cycle of an event, an individual, or a group of individuals. It is the cycle that begins with a NEED moves on to a differentiation of Solutions to a Preference of Solution that becomes a New NEED. Taboos, for example, such as foods, places, events, may have no objective impact on the success of an individual or group but are not considered as Choices because they don't fit the personal or cultural definition of a solution to a NEED.
DESIRES and NEEDS are linked and the drivers of evolution in a sentient species. When a Desire emerges in one generation or situation, the successful resolution can become a NEED for the next generation or next similar situation. NEEDS and DESIRES evolve though CHOICES. CHOICES appear when alternative solutions exist or are found and are available to specific NEEDS.
The English term for "Choice", is the Right to pick or create alternative solutions, to a NEED.
The Social psychologist, Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper "A Theory of Motivation". published in the journal Psychological Review, and its development gives us an insight into the dynamics of human of human development and how it relates to social and cultural development. This is the subject of the next installment of NEEDS, WANTS and DESIRES.