Practical vs Analytical Intelligence

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform summary of "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell. Shortform has the world's best summaries of books you should be reading.

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The kind of intelligence measured by IQ tests is called analytic intelligence. But extraordinary success in life is often the result of practical intelligence. Let’s look at what distinguishes the two:

Analytical Intelligence

  • Measured by IQ tests
  • Good for solving intellectual puzzles
  • Genetic and innate, at least in part

Practical Intelligence

  • Not measured by IQ tests
  • Good for knowing how to express yourself, and to whom, in order to get what you want
  • Learned rather than innate
  • Knowledge-based rather than skills-based
  • Also known as social savvy

Practical intelligence enables you to accurately read other people and situations and adjust accordingly. It helps you get what you want.

Having analytical intelligence does not necessarily mean you’ll have practical intelligence.

If practical intelligence is learned, where do we learn it from? Here’s where we return to the book’s theme of external factors contributing to our success.

Practical vs Analytical Intelligence

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Here's what you'll find in our full Outliers summary:

  • What makes some people outliers, and most others not
  • Why some genius outliers end up failing in life
  • Why Asians are good at math, and other curiosities of culture

Allen Cheng

Allen Cheng is the founder of Shortform. He has a passion for non-fiction books (having read 200+ and counting) and is on a mission to make the world's best ideas more accessible to everyone. He reads broadly, covering a wide range of subjects including finance, management, health, and society. Allen graduated from Harvard University summa cum laude and attended medical training at the MD/PhD program at Harvard and MIT. Before Shortform, he co-founded PrepScholar, an online education company.

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