Science Says That We’re Only Allowed Five Best Friends, So It Must Be True


Friendship is one of the most valuable relationships that we as humans can create. In part, it’s so special because friendship is one of the few relationships that we actually choose. Familial relationships are, indeed, very important, but those tend to be forged due to the nature of family. I mean, we all have that weird member (or members) of our family that we’re friends with on Facebook, but their weird political stances that feel less-than-informed make us roll our eyes. We accept and deal with those people anyway, because they are family.

Friends, though? Friends are different. Having a few good friends has always felt like the best way to go as opposed to having a large circle of acquaintances, but it varies from person to person how they actually breakdown their friendships. According to this new study, it looks like the average person only has about five best friends. This study was conducted way back in the dark ages of 2007 and analyzed data from phone calls. Yes, phone calls. Apparently back in 2007, before Facebook was as big as it is now and social networks didn’t permeate the very essence of our being, people used to call each other more.

The study posits that human beings can only have meaningful relationships with up to 150 people, called “Dunbar layers” after the researcher, Robin Dunbar. Those layers are five best friends, ten close friends, then thirty five, then one hundred. The first five are obviously your besties, and each layer from there the bond is a little bit lesser.

While I remain skeptical that people really called each other more then, they were probably texting a lot more (back when texting was expensive and had those awful overages), but I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one. Still, a part of me wonders if they simply watched the television series Friends and saw that there were six characters, meaning each one had five best friends, and called it a day.

(Via Engadget)