We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Is There a Limit to How Many Friendships We Can Maintain?

Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
WiseGeek is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At WiseGeek, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Friendship is an invaluable aspect of human life. As human beings, we need social interaction, and for many people, the idea of having a lot of friends is highly sought-after. The saying “the more the merrier” is commonly thrown around to say that something will be more enjoyable if lots of people are there, but is there a limit? As humans, can we only maintain a certain number of friendships and other close relationships? According to British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, the answer is yes, and that number is 150.

Through studies conducted on non-human primates in the 1990s, Dunbar discovered a connection between brain size and average social group size. Looking at the average human brain, he used his findings to propose that people can comfortably maintain 150 relationships. Dunbar stated that "this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size."

Many other anthropologists have accepted "Dunbar's number" but have proposed certain conditions, such as whether an individual is an extrovert or an introvert. Others have challenged Dunbar’s number by arguing that human behavior is culturally determined and can’t be held to the same biological rules as non-human primate behavior.

So, what about technology? Has the online world changed the number of friendships we can maintain? Dunbar asserts that although technology has increased the number of people we interact with daily, this doesn’t change his findings, because these online “relationships” do not have the same meaningful quality.

It makes sense that human beings have a finite number of people we can handle as friends, but what that exact number is will continue to be up for debate as the world around us evolves.

How many friends is too many?

  • An online search for the keywords “Dunbar’s number” yields approximately 26,500,000 hits on Google and 1,400 papers on Google Scholar.

  • Dunbar’s number has been used to study virtual communities, especially MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role-playing games) and social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace. Dunbar conducted his own study on Facebook in 2010.

  • Certain organizations have really taken the claims of Dunbar’s number to heart. The Swedish Tax Authority, for example, maintains a 150-person threshold in its offices.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Link to Sources
Discussion Comments
WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

WiseGeek, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.