Although there has been no shortage of speculation about the nature of psychological needs, most modern theorists would define needs as mechanisms that cause us to act in specific ways, giving a sense of purpose and direction to our behavior. Over the last century, a number of different needs have been hypothesized. Most psychologists would now agree that we have at least four core needs: for connection, autonomy, self-enhancement, and stability. In reality, there may be more. Deliberations also continue about which needs are most central, and whether needs are biological or psychological in nature.

Curiously, psychological needs cannot be observed. They steer us from within but are not directly accessible. Instead, we infer their existence from goal-oriented behaviors and habitual modes of operation. Even ...

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