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Revenge of the User (11 Feb 2004)
Next, take the number 150. I've heard over and over again how the average person only knows 150 people. This is referring to research done by Dunbar. He was interested in understanding how many people humans could "groom." In other words, how many people did a human keep in their social network at any one point in time. Dunbar was interested in how monkeys groomed each other to keep up their social network. What he found was that there was a similarity between monkey grooming and human gossip. Just as monkeys groomed to maintain their networks, humans gossiped to maintain theirs! He found that the MAXIMUM number of people that a person could keep up with socially at any given time, gossip maintenance, was 150. This doesn't mean that people don't have 150 people in their social network, but that they only keep tabs on 150 people max at any given point.
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