London: You may boast of having an impressive list of friends on social networking sites like Facebook and Orkut, but a new study suggests that your brain can`t handle more than 150 friends.
Researchers, led by Prof Robin Dunbar of at Oxford University, have carried out the study and concluded human beings cannot develop close bonds with more than 150 people, a newspaper reported.
Indeed, so intense has been Prof Dunbar`s research of the magic number that it has earned him a measure of fame. It is now referred to as "Dunbar`s Number", a term ironically coined on Facebook among fans of his work.
"There was a discussion by people saying, `I`ve got too many friends -- I don`t know who half these people are`. Somebody apparently said, `Look, there`s this guy in England who says you can`t have more than 150`," Prof Dunbar said.
He has researched societies and businesses around the world and has found that 150 is the optimum group for social cohesion and interaction.
From African and Native American tribes to successful companies, a typical community is about 150 people. The reason 150 is the optimal number for a community comes from our primate ancestors, according to Prof Dunbar.
Dunbar`s Number, of course, does face certain modern day complications.
He said: "You grow up somewhere, you go to school on the other side of the country, you get a job, you go to Europe for a bit -- it`s much harder for us to keep those relationships working and good when they`re that distributed."
As for the workplace, the study has shown that in companies smaller than 500 people "there`s a very strong tendency for colleagues also to be your friends".