Why 1,000 Facebook friends won’t make you happy

— Huseyin Kishi contributed with this report.

A seminar was held at the University of Lincoln to give an insight into how social networking sites have affected our friendships and how we keep in contact with each other.

Professor Robin Dunbar spoke about the nature of the social brain and social networks. Dunbar remarked that he was trying to “understand why humans are not just great apes”.


Professor Robin Dunbar gave a seminar at the university about Facebook and friendships. Photo: Jonathan Cresswell

The ideal grouping for humans is about 150 people, according to Dunbar’s “Social Brain Hypothesis”, and examples of this exist in groups such as modern armies and business organisations, as well as historically in hunter gatherer communities.

Strongest relationships formed between friends were ones that had a great frequency of contact, emotional closeness and intimacy.

In exchange for a Vodafone contract for 18 months, Dunbar studied the social network of a group of university students.

Results showed that the students sent over 100 texts a day, however, 80% of those texts were only sent to two people.

The average phone call for boys was seven seconds because men bond through shared activities together, while on the phone they’re combative. Whereas women enjoy co-operative conversation and could also adapt better to conversation than men.

When friends have not been seen much then the friendship becomes weaker as having the chance to see one another face-to-face is missed.

A social world is actually made up of five core friends, 15 other friends, 50 friends of friends, and 150 friends that are loosely connected.

The quality of these friendships varies greatly with the higher the number of friends the diminishing quality of the friendship.

One Response to Why 1,000 Facebook friends won’t make you happy

  1. Joel Murray says:

    I may be controversial but the reason why humans aren’t ‘just great apes’ can be found in The Bible, I believe! But that’s for another discussion.

    I’ve found that, especially coming to university, you discover who your real friends are, those who you’re still in contact with even over possibly a great distance, and what kind of person makes a good friend whilst at university.

    Some of my greatest friends are those that I’ve made in my time here whereas only a few of my friends from back home I could still count in that category. Maybe it is because of the face-to-face factor, as Dunbar says, or just maturity, I do not know…