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'Why Facebook Won't Get You Any More Friends' (Prof. Robin Dunbar)

The Centre for Culture and Evolution is pleased to present the fourth speaker in its 2016-17 seminar series ‘Building a More Functional Society; Evolution, Culture and Wellbeing’.

This seminar is open to everyone and will be followed by a drinks/nibbles reception.

Prof. Robin Dunbar, University of Oxford
Wed. 18th Jan., 4pm
‘Why Facebook Won’t Get You Any More Friends’


The internet and social media offered the promise of enlarging our social world, allowing us to make new friends all around the world. Has it actually worked?  I shall argue that, despite the many benefits of social media, there are in fact natural constraints on the number of friends we can have. I shall try to convince you that this is a consequence of a combination of a cognitive constraint and a time constraint. But it does raise the question of how we bond very large communities, and so I shall examine some of the ways we do this.

Robin Dunbar is Professor of Evolutionary Psychology, and head of the Social and Evolutionary Neuroscience Research Group, in the Department of Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. One of the UK’s best-known behavioural scientists, he is recognised especially for formulating ‘Dunbar's number’, a measurement of the ‘cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships.’ His research is concerned with understanding the behavioural, cognitive and neuroendocrinological mechanisms that underpin social bonding in primates (in general) and humans (in particular).