A friend to all is a friend to none

A Friend to All is a Friend to None - 600x400

According to work by Robin Dunbar, University of Oxford, humans can hold roughly 150 meaningful relationships in their heads.

The Dunbar number has become known, and due to the thorough approach to the research, the idea has become widely accepted.

Dunbar put forward the concept that the number 150 would be the mean group size for communities with an incentive to remain together. Examples given include groups that are under survival pressure. The number 150, according to Dunbar, is neurological. A primate is said to be able to keep track of 150 people, which is limited by the volume of the neocortex.

It can be misleading to talk about a single, absolute Dunbar number. There have also been people who question Dunbar’s research in the context of new social media networks.

Interestingly your closest group is three to five people (our closest connections/friends).


Beyond 150 there are widening circles. Fifteen hundred is the average tribe size in hunter-gatherer societies, the number of people who speak the same language or dialect. Dunbar states that language and communication are how humans used their brains to get to 150 and goes on to say that until something as revolutionary as that comes along, 150 is where he thinks we’ll stay.


In terms of the concept, Dunbar continued to add data to back up the number/research, but he did agree that humans might be able to reset or expand the cognitive limits on our social interactions.



“A friend to all is a friend to none.”


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