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Resistance vs. Resistivity: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 19, 2023
Resistance is a material's opposition to the flow of electric current; resistivity is an intrinsic property of a material determining its resistance.

Key Differences

Resistance is the measure of how a component, device, or material opposes the flow of electric current. It's an extrinsic property, meaning it depends on the material itself, as well as the dimensions and shape of the object. Resistivity, on the other hand, is an intrinsic property of a material that quantifies how strongly it resists or conducts electrical current.
Resistivity is unaffected by the shape or size of the material. While resistance is influenced by factors such as length, cross-sectional area, and temperature, resistivity remains constant for a specific material under specific conditions.
This distinction between resistance and resistivity is crucial for understanding the behavior of electrical circuits and materials. Knowing the resistivity of a material can help in determining its overall resistance when shaped into a particular form or structure.

Comparison Chart


Opposition to the flow of electric current.
Material's intrinsic property determining how it resists or conducts electric current.


Depends on material, length, cross-sectional area, and temperature.
Depends only on the material and is constant for a specific material under specific conditions.


Measured in Ohms (Ω).
Measured in Ohm-meters (Ω.m) or Ohm-centimeters (Ω.cm).

Factors Affecting

Influenced by length, cross-sectional area, and temperature of the material.
Unaffected by shape or size of the material.

Type of Property

Extrinsic property.
Intrinsic property.

Resistance and Resistivity Definitions


Opposition of a conductor to electric current flow.
The wire has a high resistance, causing the bulb to glow dimly.


Parameter that determines how strongly a material opposes the flow of electric current.
Silver has one of the lowest resistivities among metals.


Measure of how a device or material impedes the flow of electricity.
Using materials with low resistance can improve energy efficiency.


Measure of a material's ability to resist electric current per unit length and unit cross-sectional area.
Engineers often refer to resistivity charts when selecting materials for specific applications.


Force that diminishes the effectiveness of electric current.
Resistance in the circuit led to a drop in voltage.


Intrinsic resistance of a material to electric current, irrespective of its size or shape.
Materials with low resistivity are often used for making electrical wires.


Property of a circuit or component that determines the current flow for a given voltage.
A resistor is designed to provide specific resistance in electronic circuits.


Material's inherent property that quantifies its resistance to electric current.
The resistivity of copper makes it an excellent conductor of electricity.


Electrical friction preventing electric charge flow.
The increased resistance in the old device caused it to overheat.


Constant for a material that relates its resistance to its dimensions.
The resistivity of insulating materials is very high.


The act or an instance of resisting or the capacity to resist.


The capacity for or tendency toward resistance.


A force that tends to oppose or retard motion.


(Electricity) An intrinsic property of a material that is measured as its resistance to current per unit length for a uniform cross section.


(electricity) The resistance offered at a particular temperature by an electrical conductor of any given material in a cube of unit length, expressed in ohm-metres (Ωm) in the metric system of measurement.


(thermodynamics) The reciprocal of thermal conductivity, having SI unit: m K W-1


A material's opposition to the flow of electric current; measured in ohms


Is resistivity affected by the shape of the material?

No, resistivity is an intrinsic property and is unaffected by the material's shape or size.

What does resistance measure in a circuit?

Resistance measures how a component or material opposes the flow of electric current in a circuit.

In which units is resistivity typically measured?

Resistivity is typically measured in Ohm-meters (Ω.m) or Ohm-centimeters (Ω.cm).

Can resistance change with temperature?

Yes, resistance can change with temperature depending on the material.

What factors can affect resistance in a material?

Resistance can be affected by factors like length, cross-sectional area, material type, and temperature.

Are materials with high resistivity always insulators?

Typically, materials with high resistivity are insulators, but resistivity is just one factor determining insulating properties.

Is resistance always a negative factor in circuits?

Not always. Resistance can be purposefully introduced, as with resistors, to control current flow or voltage.

Are resistance and resistivity directly proportional?

They are related. Resistance is proportional to resistivity, but it also depends on the length and cross-sectional area of the material.

Does resistance always produce heat in a circuit?

Yes, when electric current flows through resistance, it generates heat due to the Joule heating effect.

Can a material's resistance and resistivity be equal?

They can be numerically equal in specific cases, but they represent different electrical properties and have different units.

Why is knowing the resistivity of a material important?

Knowing resistivity helps in determining a material's overall resistance when formed into a particular shape or structure.

How can one reduce resistance in a wire?

By increasing its cross-sectional area or using a material with a lower resistivity.

Which has a higher resistivity: plastic or metal?

Plastic typically has a much higher resistivity than metal.

Can resistivity change with temperature?

Yes, resistivity can change with temperature for many materials.

Why do wires with lower resistance conduct better?

Wires with lower resistance allow more electric current to flow through them with less energy loss.

How is resistance different from resistivity?

Resistance is the opposition to current flow in a specific object, while resistivity is an inherent property of a material that determines its resistance.

What role does resistivity play in designing electrical systems?

Knowing a material's resistivity helps in choosing the right materials for specific electrical applications.

How are resistance and length of a conductor related?

Resistance is directly proportional to the length of a conductor, given its resistivity and cross-sectional area are constant.

Why are metals generally good conductors of electricity?

Metals usually have low resistivity, which means they have low resistance to electric current.

Can two materials have the same resistivity?

Yes, different materials can have the same resistivity, but they might differ in other electrical properties.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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