The main difference between common sense and intelligence is that common sense primarily describes how practical a person is, while intelligence primarily refers to a person’s intellectual capacity.
Common sense is good sense and sound judgement in practical matters, while intelligence is our ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. Both common sense and intelligence are qualities we associate with good judgements and decisions we make in life. However, these words are not synonyms. A person we consider intelligent may not always have common sense. Sometimes even someone with a poor intelligence score (low IQ level) can use their common sense to make good decisions.
Key Areas Covered
Common Sense, Intelligence
What is Common Sense
We can describe common sense as good sense and sound judgement in practical matters. In other words, it’s the basic level of practical knowledge and judgment we all need to live in a reasonable and safe way in society. It does not involve any specialized knowledge.
In fact, common sense is a type of unwritten and unspoken knowledge that all humans have. We acquire it unconsciously from the time we are born. We acquire this knowledge through experience, observation and curiosity, without being even aware of it. Moreover, we use this knowledge in a practical situation, sometimes without even realizing that we are doing it. Wearing a good pair of boots when you are going on a hike is an example of common sense. If you use high heels or some other fashionable shoes for this type of excursion, you are not using your common sense.
What is Intelligence
The Encyclopedia Britannica defines it as “a mental quality that consists of the abilities to learn from experience, adapt to new situations, understand and handle abstract concepts, and use knowledge to manipulate one’s environment”. We can summarize this as our ability to learn, understand, and make judgments based on reason.
In general, intelligence involves different mental abilities like problem-solving, logic, reasoning, and planning. Moreover, we use the word intelligent to describe a quality in people. We usually use the adjective intelligent to describe those with a high mental capacity – the ability to easily learn or understand things or to deal with new situations. Furthermore, the intelligence levels of individual differ according to various factors like genetics, education, and experience. We also consider individuals with high IQ level (scores of intelligence quotient test) as intelligent people.
Difference Between Common Sense and Intelligence
Common sense is good sense and sound judgement in practical matters, while intelligence is our ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills.
When we talk about common sense, we are mainly talking about how practical a person is, but when we talk about intelligence, we are usually referring to the intellectual capacity of that person.
We can measure people’s intelligence through various IQ tests, whereas common sense is not usually measurable.
While common sense does not involve specialized knowledge, intelligence may involve specialized knowledge.
Common sense is good sense and sound judgement in practical matters, while intelligence is our ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills. When we talk about common sense, we are mainly talking about how practical a person is, but when we talk about intelligence, we are usually referring to the intellectual capacity of that person. Thus, this is the main difference between common sense and intelligence.
1. “Human Intelligence.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., Available here.