I am pleased to see this particular item. It has been long known that in primitive conditions, the extended human village calves at around 200. Obviously people sort themselves out with a smaller group of say fifty or so heading out to establish a new village.
This certainly suggested an upper limit to a person’s ability to relate properly to people. The hard news from this piece is that it is properly 150 without much variation implied here.
Read through this. I think it will become very useful. I had already been thinking along these lines and had begun developing a prospective symbolic language to work with it properly.
It should be immediately useful to sales training in particular. We now have a realistic framework to plan with.
British researcher asks: How many friends can you have?
The magic number is 150
Published On Fri Feb 05 2010
Debra BlackStaff Reporter
British anthropologist Robin Dunbar says human beings can have no more than 150 friends – that’s the upper limit the brain can absorb.
His conclusion comes from studying the social group size of monkeys and apes and how that size might relate to the brain.
Dunbar was examining why primates groom each other. If the reason involved sexual bonding, it should correspond to “the social brain hypothesis” that the reason primates have a large brain is because of their social complexity.
In other words, you need a large brain to keep track of your relationships. Humans, he says, are no different.
Known as “
Dunbar’s number,” the idea of an upper limit to friends is bound to cause some people – especially teens and young adults -- to raise their eyebrows, particularly in this era of social network sites where some people boast of having thousands of friends.
Since first coming up with the number 150, Dunbar, who heads the
Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at , has also looked at what the nature of the friendship is within that circle. And he found that the people within that circle were those that had a personal relationship based on history and a shared experience – be it family or friends. Oxford University
“The other key thing is the 150 friends aren’t a homogeneous group of people, but rather they are rings of people or circles of friendship that expand outwards.”
The first five friends and or family you might be prepared to go to prison for,
Dunbar said. The next layer of 10? You wouldn’t go to prison for all of them. “You’re less emotionally engaged with them,” Dunbar says. “You might lend them $100. The next layer out, which takes you to 50, your emotional engagement is less but still there. You might lend them $20. The next layer of 100, you might do them a favour.”
Everyone outside those 150 are people you may not even have a reciprocal friendship with, he added.
Dunbar’s work on the magic number 150 is being used in other areas of research, including the development of mobile phones and how much storage is actually needed for people’s address books, as well as building the optimum organizational structure.
Even last year’s international banking crisis might have been averted if the number 150 had been applied,
Dunbar said. If the banks units had been smaller, everyone might have known what was going on and felt more responsibility towards each other.