An Oxford University professor just dropped a bombshell for people with too many or too few Facebook friends. Prominent anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar has stated that, in general, only 15 of your Facebook friends are actually friends, and only five out of those could be labelled close friends.
Professor Dunbar is famous for coming up with the theory that a person can reasonably have no more than 150 friends in their life at any given time.
In his new study, which was published in Royal Society Open Science, Dunbar has written that, going purely by statistics, any friends beyond these 15 would not experience genuine feelings of sympathy or support in moments of crisis.
“There is a cognitive constraint on the size of social networks that even the communication advantages of online media are unable to overcome,” Dunbar wrote. “In practical terms, it may reflect the fact that real (as opposed to casual) relationships require at least occasional face-to-face interaction to maintain them.”
Dunbar wanted to test whether social networks like Facebook could have an impact on and increase the 150 real life friend limit that he himself had earlier written about.
The study found that while genuine friendship could be aided with likes and pokes, they would die all the same without old fashioned human contact.
“Friendships, in particular, have a natural decay rate in the absence of contact, and social media may well function to slow down the rate of decay,” Dunbar writes in the new study. “However, that alone may not be sufficient to prevent friendships eventually dying naturally if they are not occasionally reinforced by face-to-face interaction.”
Thanks for that sweet dose of positivity Mr. Dunbar!