Spilling the tea
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What's your Dunbar number?

Dunbar number Evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar says there's a limit to the number of friends you can have.

The size of the human neocortex simply can't accommodate more than about 150 friendships, he says.  That includes relatives and close friends, as well as people you would wave to if you ran into them at Starbucks.

But the average Facebook user has 130 friends, suggesting that they are approaching their theoretical limit.  

Furthermore, another sociologist -- Satoshi Kanazawa -- says that people today have more one-way relationships than ever before.  

That is, they feel as if they "know" someone they regularly see in the media, even though that person obviously doesn't know them.  For example, soap opera fans often talk about the show's characters as if they are real people.

Kanazawa claims that survey data support his theory. The General Social Survey indicates that people who watch certain types of TV are more satisfied with their friendships. "It's as if they had more friends and socialized with them more often,” he says. 

Putting both theories together, I wonder if these one-way relationships need to be counted in our Dunbar number.  And if they do, what impact do they have on our real relationships. 

 


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