Here is an interesting article from Psychology Today, relating to this book by anthropologist Robin Dunbar. It considers the issue of whether there is an optimal social network size (or amount of social contact or social support) for human societies. If so, this would stand in contrast to the view that having more friends is simply always better than having fewer (or, in more technical terms, that there exists a simple positive association between social contact and well-being).

Theorists have argued that the costs of social contact should begin to outweigh the benefits if the social network is too large. Moreover, the view here is that this is an intrinsic feature of networks of various kinds. In other words, it does not relate exclusively to humans and their friends, but also to other species where social contact occurs and to other types of interconnected contact relationships. 

Such discussions have led to the proposal that there does indeed exist such an optimal size for social networks. The size proposed has become known as Dunbar’s number.

Can you guess what Dunbar’s number is?  

How Many Friends Does One Person Need? HARDCOVER


About Brian Hughes


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