The 16 basic desires of every human being

Human interest in these elementary elements of life is nothing new. Along with the philosophy of opulence, a mode of understanding life has emerged that emphasizes the need to minimize basic desires: Eastern asceticism, Epicureanism, the practice of meditation, or, more recently, the example of Henry David Thoreau and his life in Walden.

However, all of these tendencies have in common the renunciation of desires from a spiritual or, at the very least, deeply subjective point of view. What happens when science intervenes in these investigations?

What are the basic human desires?

In an investigation, the aim was to find the desire structure peculiar to human beings, the American psychologist Steven reiss found 16 basic desires, sources of motivation, which are essential to explain our actions, the volitive dimension of our species: what drives us in the interpretation, choice and action on our environment. This 16-factor categorization of wants is based on a study in which over 6,000 people participated and is one way to approach the study of what shapes our behavior and how we meet needs.

however, it is also used to explain the personality of each according to which desires we give more importance and which less. In this way, and depending on which desire is the highest priority for us, it would be possible to find what Reiss defines as the “no happiness“From each person.

The author first published this classification in 2000 with the book Qui suis-je? The 16 fundamental desires that motivate our actions and define our personalities, and are as follows:

1- acceptance, The need to be appreciated.

2- curiosity, The need to learn.

3- food, The need for food.

4- family, The need to have and raise sons and daughters.

5- Honor, The need to be faithful to the traditional values ​​of a community.

6- idealism, The need for social justice.

7- independence, The need to guarantee individuality.

8- order, The need for stable and organized environments.

9- physical activity, The need to exercise.

ten- Power, The need to have a certain capacity for influence.

11- romantic love, The need for sex and beauty.

12- save, The need to accumulate.

13- social contact, The need to have relationships with others.

14- status, The need to be socially meaningful.

15- calm, The need to feel safe.

16- revenge, The need to return the blows.


However, it should be remembered that, to get to the concrete, the list of objectives, goals and sources of motivation is practically endless in humans, since any concept or representation can embody one.

In addition, it is necessary to take into account the cultural variations between the peoples of each region, which can reward or suppress certain manifestations of desire and will. Reiss does, however, come up with a list of 16 basic wishes common to all. they take a different form depending on our decisions and our context, A theory of motivation.

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