Are humans limited to 150 friends?

For most of human history, our forebears were content to live in compact, largely self-sufficient communities. Living and working beside strangers, as is now common in cities and towns across the planet, would have been unheard of; traditionally, everyone would have known their neighbors and the role they played in their tight-knit society.

And, according to a theory proposed by Robin Dunbar (opens in new tab), an anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford, in 1993, there’s a 150-person limit to the number of individuals with whom we can maintain meaningful social relationships, known as Dunbar’s number. 

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