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Why we dispute 'Dunbar's number' – the claim humans can only maintain 150 friendships

By Johan Lind, Associate Professor in Ethology, Stockholm University
Patrik Lindenfors, Researcher, Zoological Ecology, Stockholm University
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Many of us are aware of the claim that humans can maintain no more than 150 friendships. That figure is called “Dunbar’s number” after the evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar, who first introduced the idea three decades ago. Dunbar claimed that the number of neurons in the neurocortex would limit an organism’s capacity to process social information. This would in turn limit the…

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