How many best friends do you have? If while you’re counting you find yourself having to bring a second hand in, you may have too many best friends. According to the MIT Technology Review, people are only capable of having 5 best friends at a time. So before you claim that every member of your sorority or fraternity is in fact your “best friend…” think again!
The study discussed what British Anthropologist Robin Dunbar found out by observing primates. The bigger a primate’s brain size, the larger their social group. You may be wondering how we compare to a primate. But, we actually share a great deal of similarities. Dunbar found that people are also only able to have a certain amount of friends because of the size of their neocortex.
Dunbar took his idea a step further and created his layers. These layers take “into account the emotional closeness between individuals.” MIT Technology Review quoted Dunbar saying, “Individuals, he says, generally have up to five people in the closest layer. The next closest layer contains an additional 10, the one beyond that an extra 35, and the final group another 100.”
From Dunbar’s layers of closeness we know that the average human brain just isn’t capable of keeping relationships with hundreds of people! Honestly, I can’t even imagine keeping emotional connections with more than a handful of people. If you can’t either, know that science says that’s perfectly okay. From Dunbar’s study we learned that humans are only capable of having 100 outside contacts, 35 acquaintances, but only 5 best friends!