Brain Can't Handle More Than 150 Facebook Friends Finds Oxford Boffin

A professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University has found out that human beings are physically limited to being able to link up and manage up to 150 friends at most, regardless of any other societal variables.

Professor Robin Dunbar's study revolves around his own theory, called Dunbar's number, which posits that the size of our neocortex - the part of our brain that is responsible for conscious thought and language - is too small to handle more than 150 active relationships.

Unsurprisingly, he analysed the surge in popularity of so-called social networking networks and amongst the number of cultures worldwide.

He told the Sunday Times that "The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world".

Incidentally, the gender disparity was significant with female likely to grow their relationships mainly by talking to each other while boys, do, well, what boys are supposed to do. Very stereotypical.

Anyhow, those looking to catch a glimpse of the work of Professor Robin Ian MacDonald Dunbar, can consult one of his numerous publications, "The evolution of culture: An interdisciplinary view" on Google Books.

Professor Dunbar's findings will be published towards the end of the year and might finally debunk the myth of Facebookers who claim to have 5000 friends or so.

Our Comments

This isn't so much about rocket science as it is about common sense. Modernity has imposed a host of constraints on our ability to juggle anything more than a gross of friends or acquaintances it seems. More importantly, what defines a "friend" will certainly needs to be cleared out once Professor Dunbar publishes his findings.

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Brain can’t handle more than 150 Facebook friends