Oct 19, 2018 | Updated: 04:34 PM EDT

Not All Of Your Facebook Friends Are "Real," Study Reveals

Jan 22, 2016 12:30 PM EST


According to a recent research, people cannot have over 200 "real" friends on Facebook. This is because people are bound with cognitive and social limitations.

Restraints on brain capacity and free time imply that humans cannot process many relationships, and it can only make a natural group size of 100 to 200 people. The rest, according to the new study, are just acquaintances or mere people we see around.

The hypothetical limit of 150 friends, dubbed as "Dunbar's Number," is derived from the name of a British evolutionary psychologist, Professor Robin Dunbar, who postulated "Social Brain Hypothesis."

According to him, people are bound with limits in building multiple relationships and socializing (time constraints). However, flexibility is possible, depending on how strong you want your relationships to become, for instance, you can have more friends but with thinner bond or less with thicker bond.

However, there are speculations that people can break some of these barriers. Some suggest time limitation could be stretched as social media allows us to talk with many people at the same time, for instance, posts and tweets.

In a new study, researchers conducted two surveys to over 3,300 people to find out if using the Internet means making more friends. Of the two samples, results reveal that the average number of friends they had on Facebook is between 155 (first) and 183 (second), which are within the Social Brain Hypothesis' bracket.

Furthermore, men had fewer network than women, with women averaging 166 and men 145 on the first sample and 196 vs 157 on the second). Also, those from the younger generation have more friends than the older ones.

The first group also claimed that only 28 percent of their Facebook friends are close to them. And when interviewed how many people they actually run to for problems, the two groups had an average of 4 and 14, respectively, which is congruent to the hypothesis. So even if people have a truckload of online friends, they still have that core group to turn to for support and sympathy.

Clearly, social media sites cannot differentiate our relationship intimacy with our online friends."There is something paramount about face-to-face interactions that is crucial for maintaining friendships," Prof. Dunbar said.

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