Make new friends, but keep the old — or at least until you hit the scientifically backed maximum capacity.
British relationship mathematician and Oxford University evolutionary psychology professor Robin Dunbar reports that most humans are only capable of maintaining so many friendships at once.
In addition to the ideal cap on friends, Dunbar found that various social situations have different optimal numbers of attendees and revealed other research on the quantified nature of friendships in his latest book, out now.
As for the “magic number” of friends required for success, Dunbar wrote in “Friends: Understanding the Power of our Most Important Relationships,” it’s 150, including blood relatives. This simultaneous ideal and upward limit of friendships is often referred to as “Dunbar’s number.”
“In many ways,” Dunbar, 73, explained, according to the Guardian, “family are just a special kind of friend and so play the same role.”
Family, however, are generally prioritized over non-relations.
“We first slot all our family members in and then, if we have any spare slots left, we set about filling them with unrelated friends,” he wrote. “It seems likely that friends in this sense are a relatively recent phenomenon, and are a consequence of the dramatic reduction in family size that has occurred over the last two centuries, especially in Europe and North America.”
Of these 150 friends, there are various tiers of friendship quality, as reported by the Daily Mail. Most people have five people in their inner circle who are intimate friends who’d donate a kidney to you; 12 to 15 supportive friends who’d be dismayed by your death; and 50 good friends who would attend an annual gathering like your birthday party but not, say, a dinner party. The remainder, and the majority of most people’s friends, are more like acquaintances, people interacted with primarily at weddings, school reunions and the like.
Other important numbers which govern friendship quality, according to Dunbar, include 10 as the perfect book club size and four to six as the ideal amount of dinner party guests.
As well, Dunbar’s research found that social media “implies a degree of social isolation” he had never anticipated. He also found that having more friends is correlated with having a larger social processing portion of your brain, and having better friend networks makes people more likely to recover from heart attacks and strokes. Dunbar also found that women are generally more adept at socializing than men.
View original post