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The Difference Between a Need and a Want2:43 with Tomer Sharon
In most cases, there’s a very big difference between what people say they need and what they actually need. This difference can be described in terms of attitude and behavior.
Whitney Hess, "What’s Your Problem?"
Stephen Corey, ["Professed attitudes and actual behavior"](,http://psycnet.apa.org/journals/edu/28/4/271/)
Ron Cutler, "Why are the British so bad at washing their hands?"
Josh Seiden, "Replacing Requirements with Hypotheses"
Eric Ries, "The Lean Startup"
Brad Feld, "Problem Solving Versus Empathy"
Indi Young, "Practical Empathy"
Let's better understand the difference between what people need and
what they want.
A need, as I explained earlier,
is a necessity arising from a problem, a real problem.
A want is what people think or say they need.
In most cases, there's a very big difference between what
people say they need and what they actually need.
This difference can be described in terms of attitude and behavior.
Attitude is how people think they behave,
while behavior is how people actually behave.
Attitude signals what people want, while behavior signals what they need.
This difference has been studied by social psychologists since the beginning of
the 20th century.
Results were so unbelievable that researchers have been repeating these
studies over and over only to get the same exact outcome.
Here are two examples.
In a study conducted in 1937 by Stephen Corey,
students were asked about their attitude toward cheating.
In other words, Quory wanted to know what students said about their behavior.
A few weeks later, the same students were given the opportunity to cheat.
Following a certain exam, they were asked to grade their own performance.
There was close to zero correlation between their attitude toward cheating and
What they said about their behavior was very different than their actual behavior.
Now you might think that research from 1937 is not valued now a days.
You might think that human behavior changes over time.
The funny thing about human behavior is that it doesn't change much.
In a study reported by the BBC News a UK wide research was lead
by Ron Cutler in 2012.
The researchers asked people coming out of public bathrooms located in gas
stations whether or not they washed their hands after finishing their business.
99% of the interviewees said they indeed washed their hands.
However, electronic recording devices only 32% of men and
64% of women actually did wash their hands.
While there many possible explanations to this difference,
the fact of the matter is that it was proven again that there is a very big
inconsistency between what people say they do and what they actually do.
This important difference between what people want and
what they need is key to understand when you work on developing a new product.
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