Can you learn common sense? Take the quiz.


Is common sense innate or learned? Why do so many people seem to lack common sense even though they're perfectly functional in every other way? Curious? Take our test to see whether you've got your head on straight.

start quiz

Question 1 of 20

Merriam-Webster defines common sense as what?

prudent judgment
logical judgment
obvious reasoning

... The Merriam-Webster definition of common sense specifies "sound and prudent judgment." That judgment must be based on things that are common knowledge and established facts, either by the person making the judgment or by society in general.


Question 2 of 20

Is common sense located in a specific part of the brain?

yes, in the same region that controls emotion
probably, in the medulla oblongata
maybe, in the prefrontal regions

... Science hasn't been able to really define or explain common sense and its development. In the past, however, scientists observed that patients who underwent prefrontal lobotomies were able to return home and resume their normal lives, except that they lacked proper judgment. This could indicate that the prefrontal region of the brain is somewhat connected to our decision-making process and common sense response.


Question 3 of 20

Put very simply, common sense in based on what?


... In order to have common sense, you need to know things and be able to make deductions (reason). For example, you know that stepping in front of a speeding car is likely to get you killed, so common sense indicates you shouldn't do it. However, a 1-year-old doesn't know that a speeding car is deadly, so he cannot act accordingly.


Question 4 of 20

Some people who are very emotional tend to lack common sense. Why?

Both can't exist simultaneously.
Emotions control judgment.
The brain produces emotions faster than judgment.

... The region of the brain that controls emotions reacts faster than the region that controls decision-making. The difference is just milliseconds, but it could be enough for an irrational response to something.


Question 5 of 20

Are humans the only animals that possess common sense?

of course
only adult humans

... Scientists believe animals have an innate common sense that helps them recognize predators, find food, and perform other basic survival tactics.


Question 6 of 20

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, common sense should make us live in a _________ way.


... Common sense is meant to keep us safe and living "a reasonable way," according to the Cambridge Dictionary.


Question 7 of 20

True or false: Common sense requires social interaction.

only in young children

... Common sense is usually connected to universal truths. If you don't have regular social interaction, you might not learn what constitutes common sense and how to use it. This is why very smart people who spend a lot of time by themselves might seem to lack common sense.


Question 8 of 20

According to Bruce Charlton, editor-in-chief of the journal "Medical Hypotheses," people who lack common sense often have what?

a dysfunctional family
a mental illness
a high IQ

... Charlton believes that a lot of people with very high IQs tend to ignore common sense (or learned cultural behavior) in favor of reasoning. This might seem smart, but Charlton believes it often leads to geniuses coming up with strange responses or behaviors.


Question 9 of 20

Can common sense beliefs change over time?

Yes, and they often do.
No, because common sense is based on eternal logic.
Only subjective beliefs can change.

... Common sense is "fluid." What was common sense in the 15th century might not be common sense today. Some ideas that used to be common sense have been since proved wrong and discarded.


Question 10 of 20

Is common sense universal?

Yes, everybody agrees on the things that constitute common sense.
Some things change, but many remain the same.
No, it varies from place to place.

... What is considered common sense in one country does not necessarily add up to common sense somewhere else. If you live in a city, common sense indicates that you must look both ways before crossing the street to avoid being hit by a car. But if you grew up in a rural area, you might not look before crossing because aren't used to dealing with traffic.


Question 11 of 20

Which celebrated satirist observed humorously that common sense is "quite rare"?

Mark Twain
Oscar Wilde

... The very name of common sense implies that it is, in fact, common. The French satirist Voltaire observed, however, that it seems a great many people fail to use this "common" faculty.


Question 12 of 20

True or false: Common sense is always correct.

True: Beliefs that are not factual cannot be called common sense.
False: Common sense is often based on conventional wisdom that can be true or untrue.
Mostly true: Common sense is always correct in the mind of a rational person.

... Did you mother ever tell you, "Don't go out with your head wet when it's chilly, or you'll catch a cold"? This may seem like common sense, but it turns out that colds are caused by germs, not the weather.


Question 13 of 20

Who wrote the influential pro-American-Revolution pamphlet known as "Common Sense"?

Thomas Paine
George Washington
Benedict Arnold

... In the pages of "Common Sense," Thomas Paine made a simple but nevertheless forceful argument for American independence from Great Britain. "Common Sense" was written in common language with basic arguments, so that people who were not scholars could read and understand it.


Question 14 of 20

True or false: Common sense has nothing to do with how much knowledge you have.

True: Common Sense is not related to knowledge.
False: Knowledge can help develop your common sense.
Almost true: Only that which you learn during early childhood influences your common sense.

... The more knowledge you have about things, the more decisions become a matter of common sense. For example, if you know what poison ivy looks like and you know the unpleasant effects of topical contact with the plant, it becomes basic common sense not to touch it. A person without this knowledge can't make this common sense judgment.


Question 15 of 20

To which famous scientist is the following quote often attributed: "Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age 18"?

Nikola Tesla
Charles Darwin
Albert Einstein

... Albert Einstein wasn't a great believer in always doing things according to what society considered "common sense." This is probably why he broke so much new ground in the realm of physics.


Question 16 of 20

People with what condition can sometimes seem to lack common sense?

Asperger syndrome
clinical depression

... While people with Asperger syndrome often have high levels of intelligence, communication difficulties and the failure to understand social cues may cause their peers to claim that they seem to lack common sense.


Question 17 of 20

Do scientists rely on common sense?

Common sense is an important part of the scientific process.
The scientific method repudiates the idea of common sense.
Science is simply another word for common sense.

... While most modern science is observation-based, scientists uses common sense all the time. For example, when given two possible explanations, a scientist will usually test the common sense explanation first.


Question 18 of 20

In which physical science does common sense rarely seem to apply?

quantum mechanics

... Quantum mechanics can seem to defy both logic and common sense, which is why it is so difficult to grasp. For example, quantum theory says a single thing can be in two places at the same time. Common sense, of course, tells us that's impossible.


Question 19 of 20

Is there a part of common sense that is innate, or is it always learned?

It depends on the person.
Common sense is all learned.
A small part of common sense is innate.

... Common sense in humans is based on learned information, even when it seems that it's connected to innate reactions and senses. For example, you don't put your hand in the fire because it hurts. This might seem like an innate sense (we're programmed to avoid pain), but the truth is that until you put your hand in the fire for the first time (or somebody tells you why you shouldn't), you won't know.


Question 20 of 20

Can common sense be taught to an adult who seems to lack it?

Yes, common sense can be learned at any age.
No, by the time you're an adult it's too late.
Common sense can be partially taught to an adult.

... It's possible to teach somebody common sense, but it would require exposing that person to a lot of "what if" situations and then explaining what the common sense response would be and why.


More Curiosity

The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth

The 10 Most Amazing Places on Earth

When you're surrounded by cubicles and concrete, it's easy to forget that we live on a planet packed full of breathtaking natural beauty, so take a trip with us as we explore 10 of the very best the Earth has to offer.

Top 10 Memorable TV Moments Ever

Top 10 Memorable TV Moments Ever

From The Beatles on The Ed Sullivan Show to the latest breaking news, TV makes more memories than there are viewers. Here are 10 of the most talked-about broadcasts in television history.