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Being Smart VS Being Intelligent (Not The Same Thing)

Being Smart VS Being Intelligent (Not The Same Thing)

“Lily is very smart, but she isn’t as intelligent as Ruby.”

This sentence implies that being smart is the same as being intelligent, but that’s not the case. Both are behavioral terms used to describe a person’s cognitive abilities but refer to completely different things.

In fact, the meaning of your sentence can change entirely depending on which word you use. Therefore, you must understand the differences between being smart vs. being intelligent to use them effectively.

Thus, this article will go over what it means to be smart and what it means to be intelligent, as well as how the two are related but not interchangeable.

Are they smart…?

Being smart is different than being intelligent!

The word smart can have multiple meanings.

As per the common definition, smart could mean either “showing or possessing a high degree of mental ability”, “appealing towards sophisticated tastes: characteristic of or condescending by fashionable society” or depending on the context it is used in.

However, for this article, we will take the definition that concerns a person’s mental strength.

The best definition of ‘being smart’ is: “the acquired ability to apply previously learned information to solve a specific problem.”

It is usually a learned skill, and it is practical and concrete in nature. People who are smart tend to be more sarcastic and/or witty, as they’re able to apply facts they’ve learned previously in a humorous way.

There are many ways someone could be smart:

  1. Book Smart: This type of smartness refers to the knowledge gained through a thorough understanding of theory and book knowledge. For example, completing a degree, an online course, or even a research paper means that you are book-smart, and you know what the process is supposed to go.
  2. Street Smart: This type of smartness refers to the knowledge gained from practical experience. People who are street-smart are able to quickly adapt to different scenarios with ease and are also able to network better than people who are only book-smart. However, they cannot think of new processes for doing their tasks, as they do not understand the theory behind those processes.

However, it is nearly impossible to measure how smart someone is. This is because the brain is continuously developing every second, “removing” old information to make space for new information. Since we can’t measure this phenomenon, we can only rely on comparisons to estimate how smart a person truly is.

…or are they intelligent?

intelligent person
Intelligence is innate!

Intelligence is often referred to as “the inborn ability of a person to find solutions in problematic situations quicker than others or having distinctive qualities that affect the way their brain works.”

Intelligence, unlike smartness, is basically innate within a human and can be polished over their lifetime. It simply defines a person’s efficiency in gaining and processing new knowledge and has no direct influence on their personality.

The level of intelligence of a person can often be measured through a person’s Intelligence Quotient test.

An IQ test measures how well an individual utilizes logic and information to make predictions or answer questions.

The average person has an IQ of 100, while people who have an IQ score of 50 to 70 usually struggle with learning disabilities. A high IQ score is 130+, which is rather rare.

It’s important to remember that people with a low IQ aren’t necessarily “failures”, just like how people with a high IQ aren’t necessarily destined for great things.

IQ test
IQ tests can be done online.

IQ tests gauge how strong a person’s short- and long-term memories are. This is done by measuring how well, and how quickly, people can solve puzzles and recall information they’ve heard some time ago.

Usually, an IQ test asks questions regarding Mathematics, patterns, memory, spatial perception, and languages. However, these tests are standardized based on age groups. This means that you can compare your smartness to people your own age, but not with people from different age groups.

According to Healthline, there are currently seven professional IQ tests that are commonly accessible:

  1. Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale
  2. Universal Nonverbal Intelligence
  3. Differential Ability Scales
  4. Peabody Individual Achievement Test
  5. Wechsler Individual Achievement Test
  6. Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale
  7. Woodcock-Johnson III Tests for Cognitive Disabilities

It should be noted that IQ scores tend to be very controversial, as many studies have pointed out that the absence of certain factors leads to lower IQ scores. These factors include:

  • good nutrition
  • regular schooling of good quality
  • musical training in childhood
  • higher socioeconomic status
  • low risk of disease

Multiple studies have learned that IQ scores are lower for people suffering from infectious diseases, such as malaria. This is because the brain spends more energy fighting the disease rather than developing itself.

In addition, a country’s average IQ score is therefore not an indicator of its overall population intelligence. The country might be developed enough, or might be developed in spheres of intelligence not tested by an IQ test, such as social intelligence, creativity, and innovation.

So what’s the difference between being smart or intelligent?

Whenever you use your formal experience or theoretical knowledge to solve a problem, you are smart. In contrast, you are intelligent when you are able to absorb and understand new knowledge faster than your peers.

Smartness, therefore, is how well you put your intelligence into practice to achieve a certain goal. According to a recently published article, smart people and intelligent people act in subtly different ways.

Smart people are concerned with proving their own smartness. They love debating facts to determine a winner and can go to any length to defend their arguments.

In contrast, intelligent people are driven not by competitiveness, but by their endless curiosity. Intelligent people believe that interacting with people with different viewpoints is the best way to increase their own knowledge, and enjoy the free sharing of information. They aren’t concerned with being the most intellectually superior person in the room, but rather with learning more about the people and world around them.

The video below explains 8 core differences between being smart and being intelligent:

Being Smart vs Being Intelligent

Final Words

Now you know that the next time someone calls you intelligent, they aren’t really calling you smart.

Since you know the difference between being smart and being intelligent, you can observe truly how different the two words are.

In conclusion, smart people will tell you why they’re right, while intelligent people will ask you why you think you’re right.

So, what’s it gonna be – are you smart or intelligent?

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