Tuesday, February 9, 2010

150: physiological constraint on friendship

Perhaps the development of social networks can ever stay of natural causes. Robin Dunbar, a professor of evolutionary anthropology at Oxford, in the mid 90-ies proposed the theory that the human brain is unable to keep in mind information about more than 150 friends ("Dunbar number").

"Other" in the terminology of Dunbar is the man with whom supported emotional connection, communication is carried out at least once a year and about which a person remembers his relationship with other friends.

Physiological limits of the brain does not depend on the properties of a person's character and how he is friendly and sociable. According to the professor, limitations exist in the neocortex, the department responsible for conscious thought and speech.

English professor working on this theory for 15 years - and she has confirmed. Dunbar makes its conclusions based on the analysis of social relations in different social groups - from the first group of settlements of people in the neolithic period to modern office teams. In any situation, as is proved by a scientist, team loses signs of unity and breaks into fragments, as soon as its size exceeds 150 people.

Recently, Professor Dunbar began studying social networks, suggesting that modern technology can change something in the human mind. But nothing has changed. He found that, formally, a person may have a thousand Frendo in the social network, but if you look at traffic, it is easy to see that for every person it is limited to the same maximum range of 150 people.

Women are the easiest to maintain friendship with the discussion of different issues, and men - with the help of joint activities.

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