How many pals do you have on Facebook?

No matter how many friends you have on social networking websites like Facebook or Orkut, the human brain is capable of handling up to a maximum of 150 pals only, a new study has claimed.

| Updated on: Jan 25 2010, 13:15 IST

Researchers at Oxford University have found that while popular social networking sites allow people to maintain more relationships, the number of meaningful friendships is more or less the same as it has been throughout history.

The researchers, led by led by Robin Dunbar, have developed a theory known as 'Dunbar's number' in the nineties which claimed that the size of our neocortex - the part of the brain used for conscious thought and language - limits us to managing social circles of around 150 friends.

They derived the limit from studying social groupings in a variety of societies - from neolithic villages to modern office environments, and found people tended to self-organise in groups of 150 as social cohesion begins to deteriorate as groups become larger, The Sunday Times reported.

The researchers are now studying the social networking websites to see if the Facebook effect has stretched the size of social groupings. Preliminary results suggest it has not.

'The interesting thing is that you can have 1,500 friends but when you actually look at traffic on sites, you see people maintain the same inner circle of around 150 people that we observe in the real world.

'People obviously like the kudos of having hundreds of friends but the reality is that they're unlikely to be bigger than anyone else's. There is a big sex difference though, girls are much better at maintaining relationships just by talking to each other. Boys need to do physical stuff together,' Dunbar said.

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First Published Date: 24 Jan, 16:15 IST