London – How many friends can a person have?
In a 1993 study, Robin Dunbar, a British anthropologist, theorized that humans cannot have more than 150 meaningful relationships, a measure known as Dunbar’s number.
But Stockholm University researchers published a paper last week that questioned the number, which found that if people try, they may have more friends.
Johan Lind, author of the study and an associate professor at Stockholm University, said, “We can learn thousands of points of PI, and if we connect with a lot of people, we will get better at building relationships with a lot of people. ” The letter was published in the magazine Biology paper.
In his original research, Dr. Dunbar studied monkeys and apes and determined that the shape of the neocortex, the part of the brain responsible for conscious thought, is related to the size of the groups between which they lived. The neocortex is even larger in humans, so they extrapolated that their ideal group size was 150 on average.
In the new study, Dr. Lind said that he and his team used updated data sets and statistical methods and found that the size of the neocortex did not limit the number of connections that people could maintain. Dunbar’s numbers, he said, “have been criticized for a long time.” Dr. Lind’s team found that a maximum number of friendships could not be established with any accuracy.
In an interview, Dr. Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Psychology at the University of Oxford, defended his research. The new analysis, he said, is “bonkers, absolutely bonkers,” noting that researchers at Stockholm University conducted a flawed statistical analysis and misunderstood both the nuances of their analysis and human connections. “I am amazed at his apparent failure to understand relationships.”
Dr. Dunbar defines meaningful relationships because people you know well want to greet them without feeling awkward if you run into them in an airport lounge. He said the number is usually between 100 and 250, averaging around 150.
At birth it starts with one or two. Friendships peak during the late teens and early 20s. By their 30s, people have about 150 connections, and the number remains flat until people reach their late 60s and early 70s, when the number of connections, Dr. “Fall begins,” said Dunbar. “If you live longer, it comes back to one or two.”
Dr. Dunbar in his book “How Many Friends Do One Person Need” pointed to examples of historical and modern times to support his research. Around 6000 BCE, the size of Neolithic villages in the Middle East ranged from 120 to 150 people, considering the number of habitats. In 1086, the average size of most English villages was recorded Domesday Book There were 160 people. In modern armies, combat units have an average of 130 to 150 people, he said.
In 2007, when the Swedish tax agency was being restructured, a strategist at the agency, citing Dr. Dunbar’s research, proposed that each new office had approximately 100 to 150 employees. Employees unhappy with the reorganization already got wind of the plan and complained of being compared to monkeys. (According to the three officials associated with the plans, Dunbar’s numbers did not, in the end, play any role in the restructuring of the agency.)
Louise Barrett, a professor of psychology at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, said, although it can be comforting to think that there is an optimal number of people with whom we should surround ourselves, there is not really a rule that applies to all of us. is. . “Human life is really complicated,” she said.
Dr. Barrett, a biological anthropologist who was not involved in the new study and who previously worked with Dr. Had studied under Dunbar, said the analysis sounded strong. “We need to rethink and adjust our interpretation and hypothesis in the light of this new data,” she said.
Dr. Dunbar presented his theory decades ago in the early days of the Internet and long before social media sites changed the way people communicated. Professor Angela Lee of Columbia Business School said, “This number makes sense if we still trust Rolodex and talk to people, but this is not the world we live in.”
Networking tools such as LinkedIn have made it possible to increase the number of connections we can maintain, and this is important because research shows that people on the outer edge of our networks often make the most of career advancement or creation. Are helpful Creative idea, she said.
Dr. Dunbar argued that even in today’s hyper-connected world, his theory is still viable, as the quality of connections on social networks is often low. “These are not personal relationships,” he said.
At work or in our social lives, what would the epidemic mean to rebuild meaningful relationships? Perhaps it is too early to say, but Dr. Dunbar predicted that the greatest impact on the network would be on older people. “The scope of their friendship was already shrinking and it would push them further down that slope,” he said.
Dr. Dunbar stated that, while he tries not to analyze himself, he estimated that he had about 150 friends.
“For most people it is fairly obvious when they sit down and think about it that their social network is organized in a similar way,” he said. He said that Dunbar’s number is not going anywhere.