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You Can Only Be Close To This Number Of Facebook Friends, According To Science

Researchers determined how many Facebook friends the average user of the social network has, and you're probably way over the average number of friends.

Robin Dunbar, an anthropologist and evolutionary psychologist at the University of Oxford, previously concluded the mental capacity of human beings allows them to maintain social relationships with about 150 people, Business Insider reports.

According to The Telegraph, Professor Dunbar and a team of researchers surveyed over 3,300 people in a study questioning whether or not the Internet made it possible for humans to have functional relationships with more than 150 people.

They found the average male Facebook user had 145 friends compared to 166 for the average female user. This puts the average amount of friends for all users at 155, close to the same number of real friends Dunbar believes one can maintain.

He reportedly said,

This suggests that the constraints that limit the number of friends we can have in the everyday offline world also limit the number we have online. I suggest that this is because friendships ultimately require occasional face-to-face interaction if they are to be maintained over time.

Survey participants considered just 28 percent of their Facebook friends to be true friends and also claimed they would turn to only four in an emergency.

Those participants with significantly more than 155 Facebook friends confessed they too have only a small amount of truly close and dependable friends.

The findings imply real friendships cannot be maintained exclusively online.

Dunbar reportedly explained,

Social media certainly help to slow down the natural rate of decay in relationship quality that would set in once we cannot readily meet friends face-to-face. But no amount of social media will prevent a friend eventually becoming 'just another acquaintance' if you don't meet face-to-face from time to time. There is something paramount about face-to-face interactions that is crucial for maintaining friendships.

This study was originally published in Royal Society Open Science.

Citations: Science says this is how many friends you should have on social media (Business Insider), Facebook users have 155 friends - but would trust just four in a crisis (The Telegraph)