July 21


How Culture and Upbringing Impact Basic Needs and Desires

By Hanson Cheng

July 21, 2023

  • minute read
  • Last Updated on July 21, 2023 by Hanson Cheng

    Culture and upbringing are both key factors in shaping an individual’s basic needs and desires. Culture refers to the shared values, beliefs, practices, and customs that shape a society, while upbringing includes a person’s social, emotional, and physical experiences while growing up. These factors affect a person’s perception of things such as love, security, and social status, which play a vital role in shaping their basic needs and desires.

    In this article, we will explore how culture and upbringing can impact an individual’s basic needs and desires and the ways in which this influence manifests itself in different societies.

    The Importance of Culture and Upbringing

    The definition of culture and upbringing plays a critical role in understanding individuals’ basic needs and desires. Culture can be defined as the shared values, customs, and beliefs that characterize a particular group or society. It encompasses a wide range of elements such as language, religion, food, arts, and social habits. Upbringing, on the other hand, refers to the way individuals are raised and socialized within their families and communities.

    It includes the values, beliefs, and behaviors that are passed down from generation to generation. Culture and upbringing shape how individuals perceive and interact with the world around them and profoundly affect their basic needs and desires.

    Overview of Basic Needs and Desires

    Human needs and desires refer to the basic conditions of living that must be met to sustain life within a given cultural context. Several factors, including culture and upbringing, influence these needs and desires. Basic needs are those physiological, safety, and self-esteem requirements that must be met to ensure that individuals can survive in their environment.

    By contrast, desires are the social, emotional, and cognitive requirements that an individual wants to fulfill beyond their basic requirements. Both needs and desires vary by culture, as each culture has unique values, beliefs, and expectations regarding what constitutes a basic need or desire. These cultural differences can also impact how individuals perceive their basic needs and desires.

    Research has shown that cultural values such as individualism or collectivism can impact the specific expressions of these needs and desires. Furthermore, upbringing plays a crucial role in determining an individual’s priorities, values, and beliefs. Today, children are socialized to meet their basic needs and desires in a unique cultural context that differs from their parents and ancestors’. Therefore, demographic differences and unique historical experiences may shape the way different generations perceive their needs and desires.

    Lastly, it’s important to note that both needs and desires are subject to change over time and are influenced by numerous interdependent factors. Several studies have shown that changes in economic, social, and political factors can impact the perceived fulfillment of these needs and desires, making them dynamic and complex.

    Impact of Culture on Basic Needs and Desires

    Cultural Influence on Physiological Needs

    The way people from different cultural backgrounds think about and prioritize their physiological needs can vary significantly. For example, cultures that prioritize communal living and sharing resources may place a greater emphasis on satisfying the basic physiological needs of all members of the community, while individualistic cultures may prioritize personal needs. Culture also has a significant impact on dietary habits and food choices.

    Certain cultures may place a greater emphasis on specific foods or types of foods, which can influence physiological health. Furthermore, cultural attitudes towards physical activity and exercise can also affect individuals’ physiological needs. For instance, cultures that prioritize outdoor activities may emphasize physical fitness more, while other cultures may view exercise as less important or even unnecessary.

    Consequently, understanding the cultural influences on physiological needs and the implications of these influences can help individuals better understand their personal health and well-being needs.

    Cultural Influence on Safety Needs

    When it comes to safety needs, culture plays a significant role in determining how individuals approach and prioritize these needs. Different cultures may have different ideas about what constitutes safety, with some placing more emphasis on physical safety and others valuing emotional safety above all else. Additionally, cultural norms and beliefs can influence how individuals perceive the likelihood of safety threats and how they should respond to them.

    For example, individuals from a culture that places a high value on independence and self-reliance may be less likely to ask for help when they feel unsafe, while those from a culture that places more value on communal living and social bonds may be more likely to seek support from others.

    Another aspect of cultural influence on safety needs is how cultural factors interact with other fundamental needs. For example, a culture that places high on conformity and obedience may encourage individuals to prioritize emotional safety over physical safety in situations where standing up for oneself or challenging authority could result in danger.

    This can create a conflict between safety needs and other needs, such as the need for esteem or self-actualization, and can result in individuals making decisions that may not be in their best interest in terms of safety. Overall, culture and upbringing can profoundly impact how individuals perceive, prioritize, and respond to safety needs. Understanding these cultural influences is key to creating safe and supportive environments for people from diverse backgrounds.

    Cultural Influence on Love and Belonging Needs

    The impact of culture and upbringing on basic needs and desires is a multifaceted topic that requires careful consideration. When it comes to the cultural influence on love and belonging needs, it is essential to recognize that these needs can vary significantly from culture to culture. In some cultures, romantic love is highly valued and considered a crucial aspect of finding fulfillment in life. In other cultures, the emphasis may be on familial love and support.

    Additionally, cultural norms and practices often play a significant role in shaping the way people form connections with others. For example, some cultures may prioritize collectivism and communal living, while others may value individualism and autonomy. These cultural differences can greatly impact the way people fulfill their love and belonging needs.

    Furthermore, the impact of culture on love and belonging needs can manifest in many other ways. For instance, cultural norms and expectations often define who people are allowed to form relationships with, how those relationships should be structured and maintained, and what roles each partner should play. Additionally, cultural stereotypes about gender, race, and other identity markers can impact the way people view themselves and others in relationships, leading to imbalances of power and privilege.

    Despite the many different ways that culture can impact love and belonging needs, it is important to recognize that these needs remain fundamental to human beings’ well-being across cultures. Everyone has a fundamental desire to feel connected to others and to feel a sense of belonging within a larger community. However, the ways that people go about fulfilling these needs may vary widely depending on the cultural context in which they are situated.

    Cultural Influence on Esteem Needs

    In the hierarchy of needs proposed by Abraham Maslow, esteem needs are considered at the fourth level, following physiological, safety, and love/belonging needs. Esteem needs to relate to an individual’s desire to feel respected, acknowledged, and valued by others. Cultural factors play a significant role in shaping how individuals perceive and pursue esteem needs. Anthropologists have long observed that different cultures place varying levels of emphasis on collective versus individual achievements, which in turn affects how esteem needs are understood and pursued.

    Similarly, cultural values and beliefs regarding hierarchy, gender roles, and social status can also impact how individuals perceive esteem needs. For example, in societies with strict gender roles, esteem needs may be primarily associated with stereotypically masculine traits such as assertiveness and independence. In contrast, individuals who exhibit more traditionally feminine traits such as empathy and nurturing may be viewed as less deserving of esteem.

    Cultural influence on self-actualization needs

    Culture plays a significant role in influencing an individual’s self-actualization needs. The concept of self-actualization varies widely across cultures, with some societies emphasizing individualism and self-expression while others prioritize the collective good and harmony. In individualistic societies like the United States and Western Europe, self-actualization focuses on achieving personal goals and ambitions, such as career success, financial independence, and creative fulfillment.

    Culture also influences the extent to which individuals believe they have agency and control over their lives, which is a critical element in self-actualization. In societies that value autonomy and individualism, people tend to have a strong sense of personal agency and are more likely to pursue their goals independently. In contrast, in cultures that prioritize interdependence and collective harmony, individuals may place a greater emphasis on affiliation and social support to achieve self-actualization goals.

    Furthermore, cultural norms and values related to gender, ethnicity, and social class can affect an individual’s access to opportunities and resources that are essential for self-actualization. For example, gender roles in some cultures may restrict women’s access to education and career opportunities, limiting their ability to achieve self-actualization goals.

    Moreover, culture can influence an individual’s perception of the self and the world, which can significantly impact the fulfillment of self-actualization needs. For example, in some cultures, collectivistic values may discourage individuals from expressing their unique identity and personality. This can limit their ability to pursue self-actualization goals that require self-expression and creativity.

    Impact of Upbringing on Basic Needs and Desires

    Parenting styles and their impact on basic needs and desires

    Parenting styles have a significant impact on the basic needs and desires of an individual. The way parents raise their children can shape their personalities, attitudes, and beliefs. The four main parenting styles are authoritative, authoritarian, permissive, and neglectful. Authoritative parenting, which is characterized by setting high expectations while providing warmth and support, tends to produce children who have healthy self-esteem and positive attitudes toward life.

    On the other hand, authoritarian parenting, characterized by strict rules and punishments, can lead to children who are anxious, withdrawn, and rebel against authority. Permissive parenting, which involves few rules and little structure, can lead to children lacking social skills and difficulty adapting to new situations. Neglectful parenting, which involves little to no involvement in the child’s life, can lead to children who have low self-esteem and poor social skills.

    Each parenting style can also affect the way individuals view their basic needs and desires. For example, children with authoritative parents are likely to grow up with a healthy sense of self-worth, which can translate into a desire for personal growth, achievement, and fulfillment. In contrast, children with authoritarian parents may develop a belief that their needs and desires are unimportant or even dangerous, leading to a lack of motivation and a sense of helplessness.

    Children with permissive parents may never learn the value of delayed gratification or self-discipline, leading to an inability to pursue long-term goals or build meaningful relationships. And children with neglectful parents may struggle with feelings of loneliness and isolation, making it difficult to form close connections with others.

    Family Dynamics and Their Impact on Basic Needs and Desires

    Family dynamics play a crucial role in shaping an individual’s basic needs and desires. The interactions, relationships, and communication shared in a family shape an individual’s emotional, cognitive, and social development. The parenting styles adopted by parents, their level of involvement, and their ability to fulfill their children’s needs significantly affect their child’s behavior and personality.

    The parent-child attachment, the quality and quantity of communication, and the level of intimacy shared between family members create the foundation for a child’s sense of security, trust, and self-worth. The family’s cultural background, values, and beliefs also influence the acquisition of specific social norms, behaviors, and attitudes toward certain needs and desires. For instance, families with a collectivist culture tend to emphasize the group’s needs, values, and interests more, whereas individualistic cultures focus more on personal achievement and autonomy.

    Furthermore, the impact of family dynamics on basic needs and desires is not consistent across all individuals, as their temperament, genetic predisposition, and life experiences also influence their behavior and personality traits.

    Socioeconomic Status and its Impact on Basic Needs and Desires

    Socioeconomic status is a crucial determinant of basic needs and desires, shaping both the nature of these needs and the resources available to satisfy them. From access to food, shelter, and healthcare to cultural experiences and educational opportunities, socioeconomic privilege and disadvantage impact many aspects of individual well-being.

    Cultural and social values associated with low socioeconomic status, such as fatalism, mistrust of institutions, and risk aversion, can compound these challenges, perpetuating cycles of poverty.

    Factors that Influence the Impact of Culture and Upbringing on Basic Needs and Desires

    Age and developmental stage

    Age and developmental stage play a significant role in shaping an individual’s basic needs and desires. From infancy to age, an individual’s developmental stage undergoes various changes and adjustments, greatly affecting their basic needs and desires. For instance, during infancy, a child’s basic needs mainly comprise of physiological needs such as food, sleep, and warmth.

    In late adulthood, individuals seek wisdom and to leave a legacy through their accomplishments. Developmental changes also greatly influence an individual’s desires and priorities. Adolescents prioritize peer acceptance and social status, while young adults prioritize romantic relationships and career advancement. Individuals prioritize companionship, emotional fulfillment, and physical health as they age. Overall, understanding the impact of age and developmental stage on basic needs and desires is crucial in fostering individual growth and development.

    Gender and Sexuality

    The impact of culture and upbringing on basic needs and desires is a complex and multifaceted topic. When it comes to gender and sexuality, cultural and societal norms play a significant role in shaping one’s beliefs and attitudes. From a young age, children are socialized to conform to gender norms, which can impact their sense of self and their relationships with others. For example, boys are often encouraged to be tough, competitive, and dominant, while girls are taught to be nurturing, emotional, and submissive. These stereotypes can influence everything from career choices to romantic relationships.

    Similarly, cultural attitudes towards sex and sexuality can vary widely, with some societies emphasizing modesty and chastity while others may be more permissive. For individuals growing up in a culture that stigmatizes or criminalizes certain sexual behaviors, expressing their true desires may be difficult or even impossible. This can lead to feelings of shame, guilt, and confusion.

    It is also important to note that not everyone fits neatly into traditional gender and sexuality categories. Individuals who identify as LGBTQ may face unique challenges and experiences based on their cultural context. In some cultures, homosexuality is seen as taboo or even criminalized, while in others, it may be more accepted.

    Overall, the impact of culture and upbringing on gender and sexuality is a complex and nuanced issue, with a variety of factors influencing one’s attitudes and behaviors. By understanding these dynamics, we can better appreciate the diversity of human experience and work towards creating a more inclusive and accepting society.

    Religion and Spirituality

    Religion and spirituality play a significant role in shaping individuals’ basic needs and desires. People’s religious beliefs and spiritual practices influence their attitudes and behaviors toward life. These beliefs and practices can have profound impacts on individuals’ emotional and mental well-being, social relationships, values, and worldview. Religious and spiritual practices can provide individuals with a sense of meaning and purpose and a framework for understanding their existence. Moreover, religious and spiritual practices can shape individuals’ attitudes and beliefs about morality and ethics.

    Religious beliefs have a significant impact on basic needs and desires. Religious principles often guide and influence individuals’ behaviors and attitudes toward various aspects of life, including personal relationships, career choices, and social events. For instance, religions may influence individuals’ attitudes towards sexuality and gender roles, influencing their behavior and social norms in these areas. Religious rules and guidelines may also influence individuals’ attitudes toward food, exercise, and other health-related behaviors.

    Spirituality can also influence individuals’ basic needs and desires. A sense of purpose and meaning can impact individuals’ overall life satisfaction, self-esteem, and motivation to achieve their goals. Spirituality can shape individuals’ attitudes toward personal growth and development, leading to a more mindful and intentional approach to life. Spirituality can also influence individuals’ beliefs about the nature of reality and the universe, leading to alternative explanations for various phenomena and events.

    Geographical Location

    Geographical location significantly impacts an individual’s basic needs and desires. Culture and upbringing are closely intertwined with one’s geographical location. For instance, the environment in which one is raised shapes their personality and values. People from different regions have different customs, beliefs, and traditions.

    Education and Exposure

    The impact of culture and upbringing on basic needs and desires cannot be overstated. One significant factor that contributes to this impact is education and exposure. Education and exposure, in this context, refer to the level of knowledge a person has obtained in terms of their cultural, social, and economic background and their exposure to different experiences. Education and exposure go hand in hand as they widen an individual’s worldview and knowledge.

    Growing up in an environment without proper education and exposure often leads to a narrow perspective regarding basic needs and desires. Without proper exposure, a person may not know what is available to them, and, as a result, may not know what they want or need. Education and exposure, therefore, play a significant role in shaping an individual’s perspective on basic needs and desires.

    A person’s level of education and exposure can also affect their access to resources that are necessary for meeting basic needs and fulfilling desires. Education, particularly in developing countries, can determine the extent to which an individual can meet their basic needs. Lack of education often leads to poverty and lower socio-economic status, making it difficult for a person to access basic needs such as shelter, food, and healthcare.

    Summary of Findings

    The research examined the impact of culture and upbringing on basic needs and desires, with a focus on how these factors shape individual behavior and preferences. Through a comprehensive literature review and analysis of empirical studies, the findings suggest that culture and upbringing significantly influence a wide range of basic needs and desires, including social recognition, autonomy, belongingness, and achievement.

    The research suggests that individuals raised in collectivistic cultures prioritize social recognition and belongingness, while those raised in individualistic cultures prioritize autonomy and achievement. The findings also suggest that early childhood experiences, such as attachment style and parental warmth, can have a lasting impact on basic needs and desires, as well as on personality development and psychosocial functioning.

    Moreover, the research highlights the need for future research to continue investigating the complex interplay between culture, upbringing, and basic needs and desires. Future studies could use more diverse and representative samples and explore additional factors such as gender, socioeconomic status, and cultural variability within collectivistic and individualistic cultures. Additionally, there is a need for longitudinal studies to examine the long-term effects of culture and upbringing on basic needs and desires and to explore the mediating and moderating mechanisms that underlie these effects.

    Finally, the research has important implications for practice, particularly in areas such as education, counseling, and cross-cultural communication. Understanding the impact of culture and upbringing on basic needs and desires can help educators and counselors tailor their approach to individuals’ needs and preferences. For example, educators in collectivistic cultures could focus on collaborative and group-based learning, while educators in individualistic cultures could focus on individual achievement and self-directed learning.

    Implications for Future Research

    Research on the impact of culture and upbringing on basic needs and desires has yielded several key findings that present opportunities for future research. Firstly, there is a need for more in-depth studies on how social and cultural factors influence the interpretation of basic needs and desires. Given that social norms and cultural attitudes towards basic needs can vary significantly across geographical regions and ethnic groups, there is a need for more nuanced research that accounts for these variations.

    Additionally, research should focus on identifying the contextual factors that impact the process of decision-making concerning basic needs and desires. This could include studying the interplay between socioeconomic status, cultural beliefs, and personal values in shaping how individuals prioritize and meet their basic needs. Moreover, there is a need for empirical studies that explore the impact of early childhood experiences on the development and sustenance of basic needs and desires. This could include investigating the impact of parental parenting style, socio-economic status, educational background, and cultural values on children’s needs and desires.

    Another implication for future research is the need to investigate how exposure to different cultures and experiences shapes individuals’ understanding and interpretation of basic needs. This could include researching the dynamics of cultural adaptation and acculturation and how these processes influence an individual’s perspectives on basic needs and desires. Similarly, research should examine the impact of acculturation and cross-cultural experiences on individuals’ preferences and decision-making concerning basic needs.

    Implications for Practice

    Understanding the impact of culture and upbringing on basic needs and desires is critical for practitioners across various fields, such as psychology, sociology, education, and social work. One key implication for practice is the need to develop cultural humility among professionals who work with individuals from diverse backgrounds.

    This involves acknowledging one’s biases and limitations in knowledge of different cultures and actively seeking to learn and understand each individual’s unique needs and experiences. Such an approach can enhance the quality of services and interventions provided and lead to better outcomes for clients.

    Another important implication is the need for practitioners to be aware of the potential impact of cultural values and norms on individuals’ aspirations and goals, particularly in educational and career settings. For instance, individuals from collectivistic cultures may prioritize family and community obligations over personal achievement, which may affect their academic and professional aspirations.

    Therefore, professionals need to take a more holistic approach to goal-setting and career development that considers the individual’s cultural background and values.

    Finally, practitioners need to be cognizant of the potential for cultural misunderstandings and miscommunications in their interactions with clients from diverse backgrounds. This can result in misdiagnosis, mistreatment, or low uptake of services. Therefore, there is a need for regular training and professional development opportunities that equip practitioners with the knowledge and skills to engage effectively with clients from diverse backgrounds.

    The Impact of Culture and Upbringing on Basic Needs and Desires – FAQs

    1. How does culture influence basic needs and desires?

    Culture plays a significant role in shaping our basic needs and desires. It affects the way we view things and determines our values, beliefs, and norms of behavior.

    2. What role does upbringing play in shaping basic needs and desires?

    Upbringing has a significant impact on shaping our basic needs and desires. The environment we grow up in shapes our beliefs, social norms, and values, which influence our needs and desires.

    3. What basic needs and desires are influenced by culture and upbringing?

    Culture and upbringing play an essential role in shaping our needs and desires. Basic needs such as food and shelter and more complex desires such as career aspirations and romantic preferences are just a few examples influenced by cultural and environmental factors.

    4. How can cultural and environmental factors shape our future aspirations and goals?

    Cultural and environmental factors can shape our future aspirations and goals by influencing our beliefs, values, and norms of behavior. This can lead us to pursue careers, relationships, and lifestyles that are consistent with our cultural and environmental background.

    5. How does cultural diversity impact basic needs and desires?

    Cultural diversity can significantly impact basic needs and desires as it exposes us to different cultural norms and behaviors. This can broaden our perspectives and shift our priorities, leading to changes in our values and beliefs.

    6. Can cultural and environmental factors change basic needs and desires over time?

    Cultural and environmental factors can influence our basic needs and desires throughout our lives. As we are exposed to new experiences and cultures, our values, beliefs, and perspectives may evolve, leading to changes in our basic needs and desires.

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    Hanson Cheng

    About the author

    Living in Portugal with my wife and puppies.
    Scaling online businesses and sharing lessons learned on this website and in our email newsletter.

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