Friday, June 10, 2011

How Many Friends Can We Really Have?

According to "Dunbar's Number," human beings can maintain a network of only about 150 close friends.  Robin Dunbar is a professor of evolutionary anthropology at the University of Oxford. 

Dr. Dunbar tells how a company with 150 employees remains a close knit group that is more productive and a better place to work than a company with more employees. This research substantiates 'bigger is not better.'

I first noticed our culture's trend to 'largeness' when the mega-schools arrived in the 1990's. My kids were in elementary school then. They did not have cohort of friends from one school year to the next because there were 8-10 other classes at each grade level. The feeling of the school was  anonymity.  Dr. Dunbar’s work speaks of our human need to be know in a community, a community that is of no more than 150 people 
NPR's Rachel Martin interviews the professor and the interview can be found here.

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