5,000 friends on Facebook? Scientists prove 150 is the most we can cope with

The Facebook obsession of amassing ‘friends’ creates the impression that some users are wildly more sociable than others. 

But while we may be able to count 5,000 friends on the online social networking site, scientists have shown that humans’ brains are capable of managing a maximum of just 150 friendships. Oxford University Professor Robin Dunbar has conducted a study of social groupings throughout the centuries, from neolithic villages to modern office environments.

His findings, based on his theory ‘Dunbar’s number’, developed in the 1990s, asserts that size of the part of the brain used for conscious thought and language, the neocortex, limits us to managing 150 friends, no matter how sociable we are. The professor of Evolutionary Anthropology has applied this theory to see if the ‘Facebook effect’  has stretched the size of social groupings.

He compared the online ‘traffic’ of people with thousands and friends to those with hundreds. His findings show that there is no discernible difference between the two. ‘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,’ said Dunbar.

‘People obviously like the kudos of having hundreds of friends but the reality is that they’re unlikely to be bigger than anyone else’s.’ Dunbar defined ‘maintained’ friends as those you care about and contact at least once a year. He has also found that women are better at maintaining friendships on Facebook. ‘There is a big sex difference though … girls are much better at maintaining relationships just by talking to each other. Boys need to do physical stuff together,’ he said.

Dunbar’s findings, due to be published this year, will be welcomed by psychologists who warn that Facebook is driving a worrying trend of ‘friendship addiction’ causing insecurity in those who use it. Addictions expert David Smallwood claims that many who use Facebook become hooked on the urge to acquire more friends in an attempt to appear popular and successful.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1245684/5-000-friends-Facebook-Scientists-prove-150-cope-with.html#ixzz0dYhLbAjB

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6 thoughts on “5,000 friends on Facebook? Scientists prove 150 is the most we can cope with

    1. stevevirgin Post author

      Presumably under electoral boundary law, an MP has to cope with 67,323 friends (+/- 10%) depending on what part of the country they are in. That is potentially a lot of updates and a lot of messages on your live social network channels. Hopefully we can find MP’s talented enough to know how to use them like you and not the shameless rabble and useless greedy crowd from all parties that inhabit the Westminster bubble at the moment

      Reply
  1. David Phillips FIPR

    The evidence goes well beyond Dunbar and anyone who thinks that some online gismo is going to change over 100,000 years of evolution is nuts.
    In our book Philip and I show a lot of research that gives us the same result.
    This is the challenge: how do we use this niche behaviour to access mass consumers, and especially in social networks?
    It is not an impossible question to answer but is is not as simple as 20th century marketing.

    Reply
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  3. Pingback: Study Shows Even With Facebook, We Max Out at 150 Friends | ConcerningFacebook.info

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