Primates have a maximum of 15 really close friends
How does it depend on how many good friends we have among our acquaintances? Researchers have now found that we all have a certain hormone that determines how many friends we have in our close social environment. In general, people only have a narrow social circle of five to 15 people and a more superficial broader circle of friends of up to 150 people.
Scientists at internationally recognized Oxford University found that chemical makeup in the brain of humans and monkeys limits how many friends we can have at any one time in life. The doctors released a press release on the results of their current study. The topic was also presented at this year's meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Boston.
The extensive circle of friends consists of a maximum of 150 people
Have you ever been jealous of people who seem to have hundreds of friends? Then you shouldn't worry. Because current research has shown that the real circle of friends and the social network are much smaller in reality. A hormone limits the number of our friends. The doctors explained that our closest social circle consists of a maximum of five to 15 friends. The wider group of friends consists of a maximum of 150 people, say the experts.
The size of the brain and available time limit the circle of friends
The size of our brain and the time available to cultivate friendships limits the maximum number of friends and acquaintances, explains author Professor Robin Dunbar from Oxford University. So someone with 5,000 Facebook friends has 4,850 superficial acquaintances rather than real friends.
People develop new ways to expand the circle of friends
As soon as your close circle of friends goes beyond five to 15 people, it becomes increasingly difficult to use psychological contact to trigger the so-called endorphin system, says Professor Dunbar. One reason is simply that we don't have enough time. In today's society, however, people have found new ways and opportunities to deal with many acquaintances and friends at the same time. This increases the size of the extended circle of friends up to 150 people.
What is the dual process bonding mechanism?
Primates have developed a so-called dual process bonding mechanism. This depends in part on advanced cognitive skills, the scientists say. With the so-called social brain hypothesis, we make conscious, calculated decisions. These also affect how much we can trust an individual. In addition, this effect also affects the activation of the endorphin system through social care, the doctors add.
Nowadays people can form large and structurally complex social groups
Physicians seem to have expanded this mechanism so that they can form unusually large and structurally complex social groups. The current study shows how in our brain the conscious and subconscious parts work together when it comes to making friends. The mechanism could generally be used to set the optimal numbers for the size of different groups of people. This affects, for example, the number of employees in companies or simply the decision how much children you ultimately want. With the help of the results, the effectiveness of even large-scale societies, such as the EU or the United States of America, could be assessed, the experts say. (as)