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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 ?
Our theorizing is often mistaken, and when it is mistaken there is a difference between what we think we desire and what in fact will bring satisfaction.
What, I think, is clearly established, is that a man's actions and beliefs may be wholly dominated by a desire of which he is quite unconscious, and which he indignantly repudiates when it is suggested to him.
Well, I said, and hunger and thirst, and the desires in general, and again willing and wishing,--all these you would refer to the classes already mentioned.
Admitting this to be true of desire generally, let us suppose a particular class of desires, and out of these we will select hunger and thirst, as they are termed, which are the most obvious of them?
MENO: That appears to be the truth, Socrates, and I admit that nobody desires evil.
SOCRATES: And if I went on to say: That is what I desire to know, Meno; tell me what is the quality in which they do not differ, but are all alike;--would you be able to answer?
He is the creature of his desires, and of the two desires he obeys the strongest one, that is all.
Or, if you will, the sum of his desires is his soul.
And the point is that this development of desire was entirely in my brain.
And whether I yielded to drink, as at Benicia, or whether I refrained, as at the laundry, in my brain the seeds of desire for alcohol were germinating.
I am rich enough to know whatever I desire to know, and I can promise you I am not wanting in curiosity.
When you have purchased the estate I desire, I want constant relays of horses at ten leagues apart along the northern and southern road.