- Paperback: 320 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (3 Feb. 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571253431
- ISBN-13: 978-0571253432
- Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
Amazon Bestsellers Rank:
113,457 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #236 in Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry > Cognition & Cognitive Psychology > Emotions
- #273 in Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry > Social & Developmental Psychology > Social
- #1271 in Books > Health, Family & Lifestyle > Psychology & Psychiatry > Schools of Thought
How Many Friends Does One Person Need?: Dunbar's Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks Paperback – 3 Feb 2011
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More About the Author
How Many Friends Does One Person Need? by Robin Dunbar is a fascinating examination of human evolution, revealing why we gossip, how many Facebook friends we should have and how our distant past influences our current behaviour.
About the Author
Robin Dunbar is currently Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University and a Fellow of Magdalen College. His principal research interest is the evolution of sociality. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1998. His books include The Trouble with Science, 'an eloquent riposte to the anti-science lobby' (Sunday Times), and Grooming, Gossip and the Evolution of Language. The Human Story was described as 'fizzing with recent research and new theories' in the Sunday Times and 'punchy and provocative' by the New Scientist. How Many Friends Does One Person Need?: Dunbar's Number and Other Evolutionary Quirks was published in 2010.
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Robin Dunbar, Professor of Evolutionary Anthropology at Oxford University, offers a fascinating collection of essays about the evolution of humans and human society. The answer to the book's title, "How Many Friends Does One Person Need?", is somewhere around 150 (Dunbar's Number). From groups of hunter-gatherers to well-run corporations and armies, the number 150 is a basic (and maximum) building block for human organizations. Groups with fewer than 150 individuals can generally function on a first name basis--members can actually know, to one degree or another, everyone in the group. Groups larger than 150 tend to exceed the capacity of individual members to keep track of social complexity, which means that, like large corporate enterprises, they need heirarchy and management to preserve manageable group structures.
According to Dunbar, the complexity of human society--not tools, or walking upright, or hunting--it the primary force driving the growth of the human brain. Our brains enable us to speak and sing and otherwise communicate with each other without actually touching, so we can groom each other at a distance, so to speak. Because our social interactions don't require one-on-one contact, human groups can be larger than the groups of our primate cousins--but group size still has a limit, which appears to be about 150.
Dunbar's book is very readable and is filled with fascinating tidbits, like the fact that all human infants (even the ones who are carried to a full nine month term) are born premature. For our children to be born at the same level of development as, say, a chimpanzee, the gestation period would need to be about 22 months.Read more ›
Sections about grooming are especially good. Indeed, grooming is not just about removing fleas. It is about intimacy, it creates a sense of wellbeing and relaxed connectedness. It has to do with endorphins. Laughter, music and language are all forms of grooming, even though they might have other purposes as well. It is all about what makes us work as individuals and as groups.
Our big brains are necessary for these more advanced forms of grooming. And the grooming makes it possible to build even bigger brains. All in just in a blink of an eye in evolutionary terms.
An exciting book about an exciting subject.
To test the book's appeal, I gave my copy to my 86yr old uncle, who rarely reads books these days. He loved it!
If you like deep thought provoking articles regarding human behaviour, evolution, evolution psychology, anthropology, religion, why belief systems don't work and other high octane subjects, then this is a good read!
For weeks afterwards it kept me thinking about why things are the way they are.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We've run four successful crowdfunding campaigns as a company for our last few films and none of them were quite what we anticipated before we started in terms of how the idea... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Rob the Greek
A novel approach to eternal issues.
The 'sciencey' bits were hard-going, but worth the effort. Read more
It was my fascination with Facebook - a sociality which does not work and which as soon as the Marketeers realise that they are wasting their money in financing ads aimed at the... Read morePublished on 25 Nov. 2012 by opus
Written so the layman can understand a complex subject, Robin also has a sense of humour, a trait not often found in authors of such serious subjects!Published on 31 May 2010 by C. M. Mcmillan
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