Difference Between Force and Pressure

Force vs Pressure

Force and pressure are two important concepts in the study of motion in physics. While there are many similarities in force and pressure, they are totally dissimilar also. Students often get confused between force and pressure which is surprising considering both have different units of measurement and are also related with each other which is expressed with the help of the following equation.

Pressure = Force/Area

Let us talk more about these two terms to remove any doubts from the minds of the readers.

Force

A force is defined as a push or a pull that makes an object change its state of motion. When a soccer player hits the ball with his legs, he applies force upon it which decides that the ball, which was static comes into a state of motion and remains in motion till it is stopped by friction and force of gravity. A force can cause a moving body to stop, make it move faster, or even change its direction.

Force is a vector quantity which means it has a magnitude as well as direction. Force is dependent upon the mass of the body which accelerates upon application of force and the three are related as per following equation (Newton’s second law of motion)

Force= Mass x Acceleration

Pressure

Pressure is a physical quantity that is a force spread over some area. For convenience you can think of pressure as force per unit area. If you know the amount of force being applied on a body, divide it with the area of contact and you get the pressure being applied on the body. This means that same force, when applied on a smaller area will produce greater results than when applied to a larger surface area. Pressure is a scalar quantity and has no direction and has only magnitude. Units of pressure are Pascal (P) or Newton per square meter.

In brief:

Pressure vs Force

• Pressure and force are related but different concepts in physics

• Force is a push or a pull that induces motion, changes state of motion, or stops a moving body when applied. On the other hand, pressure is force spread over a surface area or force per unit area.

• Force is a vector quantity while pressure is a scalar quantity.