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False Needs: what are they and how can we detect them?

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In times of hyperconsumption, the limits of reality seem to blur. The influence of the networks, of everything we see on our screens and of the advertising that seems to follow us daily, makes us begin to question our experiences. Are we really interested in this television series, or is everyone talking about it? How does TikTok know I was thinking about buying new shoes?

The answer to these questions lies in false needs.. These are, in essence, those that our contemporary society urges us to perceive as essential to our daily lives, but they are, really, constructions designed to boost consumption and cement the economy. These needs do not emerge from an intrinsic or vital demand for us, but are skillfully instilled through advertising and marketing strategies. marketing.

The machinery that manages this phenomenon is responsible for convincing us that our lives are incomplete without the latest news or the most up-to-date trend. From planned obsolescence and the short life of some products we buy, to the constant need for “improved” versions, we increasingly feel the pressure to acquire everything that is “in the last.”

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In this article we are going to understand the nature of false needs, which is, in essence, the first step to knowing their influence and being able to free ourselves from it. It is important to promote more sustainable, informed and conscious consumer decisions, and therefore, deconstruct the form of hyperconsumption with which we function in our daily lives.

What are false needs?

False needs, in essence, They are all those that we perceive as essential but that are really determined by social actors such as advertising and marketing.; being really artificial constructions intended purely for consumption. These needs, as we have already said, do not arise from an intrinsic or vital demand, but are skillfully instilled through consumerist strategies.

Through false needs, often unconsciously, we begin to value as vital needs things that can turn out to be totally unnecessary whims. It is not a need to change your mobile phone every year to have the latest model, or have an account on all online content consumption platforms.

Take planned obsolescence as an example. This refers to the creation of products with an expiration date already defined from the moment of purchase, for example, a laptop that begins to fail after 3 years. These products are developed purely to promote continued and constant consumption. In addition to having an impact on our personal economy, these processes generate problems of ecological sustainability at all levels of society.

In order to put an end to these processes and deconstruct the way in which, socially, we consume, it is It is important to realize how normalized false needs are in our social fabric. daily. Become aware of how, for example, Instagram detects a false need that you have before you are even aware, and you start seeing ads constantly until you end up consuming. Wouldn't you like to be purely conscious of your consumer decisions and needs?

  • Related article: "Maslow's pyramid: the hierarchy of human needs"

Psychology behind false needs

To understand where false needs arise from and how they manage to influence us so much, it is essential to delve into the psychology that explains them. Mostly, False needs are studied and explained from the prism of consumer psychology, a field in which persuasion and the creation of desires acquire an exceptional dimension. Advertising and marketing, ably supported by psychological research, focus on striking emotional and aspirational chords.

The promise of improving self-esteem, social acceptance or the feeling of belonging becomes the foundation on which advertising campaigns are built. The fear of being left behind in the latest trends or the anxiety of not meeting expectations Social networks are powerful tools for creating feelings of lack, whether the need exists or not. real. Advertisements don't just sell products; They sell the idea of ​​a lifestyle, of happiness encapsulated in a material object.

Cognitive psychology also plays a crucial role, and is the protagonist of many of the strategies that consumer psychology takes. Confirmation bias and the search for social validation drive us to look for products that reinforce our beliefs and values, even if these products are not essential to our lives daily. Recognizing these mechanisms allows us to critically question our purchasing motivations and resist emotional manipulation. that underlies the creation of false needs.

  • You may be interested: "Consumer Psychology: what is it and how does it study purchasing patterns?"

Consequences of false needs

The impact of false needs extends beyond business transactions; It seeps into the most intimate corners of our lives and leaves lasting marks on society. We could differentiate the impact and consequences of these false needs at three levels:

1. Individual level

At the individual level, Succumbing to the pressure to constantly purchase the latest and greatest can have adverse consequences for your financial and mental health.. The constant search for satisfaction through consumption leads to a spiral of debt and stress, while perpetual dissatisfaction creates an endless cycle of searching for the next acquisition. Furthermore, this constant exposure to unnecessary consumption can make us doubt our environment and our own expectations and ambitions.

2. Macro level

At a macro level, false needs contribute to rampant consumerism, generating excess waste and depleting valuable resources. Planned obsolescence, designed to make products obsolete quickly, not only drives continued demand but also compounds environmental impact.. At a time of such advanced climate problems that are only getting worse, it is crucial to question how hyperconsumption plays a leading role.

3. Social level

The social fabric also suffers, as competition to keep up with appearances creates deeper economic and social divisions. The ultimate consequence of this phenomenon is a society that values ​​the possession of material goods more than the genuine well-being of its citizens.

  • Related article: "What is social psychology?"

Detection strategies

Detecting false needs requires a conscious and thoughtful approach to our consumer behavior. This is the first step in realizing its bad influence and seeking liberation from its impact. Remember that taking a more sustainable consumption approach is crucial for society as a whole, but also for you on an individual level. Here are some practical strategies to help you discern between what is truly essential and what has been artfully presented as such:

1. Reflective self-assessment

Take time to reflect on your true needs. Ask yourself whether a product or service really improves your quality of life or whether it is simply a momentary impulse influenced by advertising. Did you want it before you saw that ad or before they started bombarding you with information about that product?

2. Previous research

Before making a purchase, do your research thoroughly. Compare products, read user reviews and evaluate whether additional features really add value to your daily life. Be aware of what you already have, and whether that product will solve your real need or if you are simply doing it guided by a social engine.

3. Question the urgency

In relation to what was mentioned above, when faced with a new trend or launch, stop and reflect. Is it really urgent to purchase this product right now or can you wait and evaluate if it is a real need over time? Don't you already have something that satisfies this need? Is it really necessary to update it?

4. Resistance to compulsive consumerism

Develop the ability to resist irresistible offers. Don't get carried away by discounts and promotions that seek to create a feeling of artificial scarcity. Be aware that this entire network of offers and discounts is usually developed exclusively with the goal of hyperconsumption, a multinational company will never do you a favor without you giving anything to change.

5. Temporary disconnection

Temporarily disconnect from social networks and advertising. This allows you to reduce exposure to persuasive messages and make more objective decisions. Don't you think that constantly checking what others have or what they show on social networks takes you away from what you really want?

6. Promotes consumer education

Share information about ethical business practices and the importance of conscious consumption. Consumer education is key to building a society more resistant to false needs and to realize in what ways we are involved in this wheel of hyperconsumption without we figure out.


In the constant search for satisfaction, we have examined the pitfalls of false needs. From psychological creation to social consequences, these ruses deeply impact our lives. However, by taking a thoughtful and educated approach to consumption, we can free ourselves from these chains. By understanding screening strategies, we are equipped to make conscious decisions that promote authenticity over illusion, transforming our actions into an act of empowerment.

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