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(in psychology), an experience characterized by a more or less conscious notion of intention to accomplish some act (action). The realization of this act is experienced as the satisfaction of the desire. The word “desire” is most often used to mean an emotionally colored attraction toward some object. In this sense there is the connection of desire with feelings, emotions, and affects. Ethics and social psychology regard desire primarily from the viewpoint of its conditioning by social norms and values—in this sense desire is understood as an intention, more correctly as an impulse to achieve some goal, ideal, or daydream.

Desire is one of the most important elements of those psychological states of the personality that anticipate its behavior and activity. It characterizes primarily the motivational and volitional aspect of these states. Therefore, desire is described in psychology not only as an attraction (the emotional aspect) or striving (the value aspect) toward the object of activity but also as the will and intention of carrying out the very process of this activity. Will is understood here as the manifestation of the personality—that is, its volition, while intention is understood as the conscious inducement to realizing the action, which includes consciousness of the need for it.

The development of desire is determined both by the object of desire and the means and conditions of its satisfaction and by the persistence, duration, and strength of the desire itself. Depending on these factors desire may be feasible, unreal, contradictory, reckless, or purposeful. Desires, along with interests and convictions, characterize the conscious attitude of man to his activity.


Blonskii, P. P. “Psikhologiia zhelaniia.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1965, no. 5.
Rubinshtein, S. L. Osnovy obshchei psikhologii, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1946.


References in classic literature ?
This same mode of proceeding I shall have to adopt with thee, for the desire which has sprung up in thee is so absurd and remote from everything that has a semblance of reason, that I feel it would be a waste of time to employ it in reasoning with thy simplicity, for at present I will call it by no other name; and I am even tempted to leave thee in thy folly as a punishment for thy pernicious desire; but the friendship I bear thee, which will not allow me to desert thee in such manifest danger of destruction, keeps me from dealing so harshly by thee.
A woman is anxious to exhibit her form and shape, whether walking, standing, sitting, or even sleeping; even when represented as a picture, she desires most of all to set off the blandishments of her beauty, and thus rob men of their steadfast heart
I suspect, gentlemen, that you are looking at me with compassion; you tell me again that an enlightened and developed man, such, in short, as the future man will be, cannot consciously desire anything disadvantageous to himself, that that can be proved mathematically.
Now, would anybody think that this room contained a happy, merry party, who desire nothing better than to laugh and dance the hours away?
But in general and ordinary cases between friend and friend, where one of them is desired by the other to change a resolution of no very great moment, should you think ill of that person for complying with the desire, without waiting to be argued into it?
For their nobles; to keep them at a distance, it is not amiss; but to depress them, may make a king more absolute, but less safe; and less able to perform, any thing that he desires.
For though at first two oboli might be sufficient, yet when once it is become customary, they continually want something more, until they set no limits to their expectations; for it is the nature of our desires to be boundless, and many live only to gratify them.
That is an emotion in which tenderness is an essential part, but Strickland had no tenderness either for himself or for others; there is in love a sense of weakness, a desire to protect, an eagerness to do good and to give pleasure -- if not unselfishness, at all events a selfishness which marvellously conceals itself; it has in it a certain diffidence.
The first theory, of assassination, was quickly abandoned when it was subjected to the light of reason, for it was evident that an assassin could have dispatched the little Prince at the same time that he killed the Lady Maud and her lover, had such been his desire.
Her eyes wandered along the strong throat, dimly seen in the starlight, and over the firm-poised head, and the old desire to lay her hands upon his neck came back to her.
The social instinct was strong in them, yet they had remained lonely because they could not satisfy that instinct and at that same time satisfy their desire for cleanness and decency.
It took twenty years to implant that desire; and for ten years more that desire has grown.