What People Want

Roy F. Baumeister

in The Cultural Animal

Published in print June 2005 | ISBN: 9780195167030
Published online April 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780199894147 | DOI:
What People Want

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This chapter considers the question of what basic wants and needs are built into the human psyche. Some come from nature, insofar as our animal forebears acquired them because they promoted survival and reproduction. With these, the crucial question is: How have they been altered by evolution so as to make human beings suitable for living in culture? Other motives have roots in culture, though typically they build on what nature has already installed. The desire for money, for example, was not directly produced by natural selection, because money didn't appear on the planet until after humans had already evolved; but the desire for money probably has its roots in natural desires for food, shelter, comfort, and social acceptance, all of which are easier to acquire within a culture if you have money than if you haven't. Human desires will be covered in three main groups, corresponding to the three environments (physical, social, and cultural). The chapter explores the motivations that enable animals to survive in the physical world, such as the desire for food, the wish to avoid pain, and the self-preservation impulse; but it will be necessary to recognize how these drives have changed in cultural beings. Likewise, the motives pertinent to social animals may also have changed somewhat in human beings in order to make us suitable for culture.

Keywords: human psyche; wants; needs; culture; human desires

Chapter.  41291 words. 

Subjects: Social Psychology

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