How The Evolution Of Social Life shaped Our Brain
Wow. Just finished the book above. It was pretty interesting; a must read, especially for those that are into evolutionary psychology.
The main idea that is defended during the whole plot is the social brain hypothesis. This hypothesis states that our brains grew bigger throughout history because of an increase in size of our social communities.
As our ancestral community size increased, evolutionary pressures made sure that we evolved to more sociable human beings.
We invented tools such as language and fire. These things purely evolved as responses to the selection for more intricate and complex social worlds.
To process all this new information, we needed bigger brains. And nature gave it to us, – at least – to our ancestors in the first place.
Let’s move to another key concept in this book…
Ever heard of it?
This is the maximum number of relationships our social brain is able to maintain.
This magical number is 150.
Yeah, that’s right. We cannot maintain more than 150 relationships in our life.
These 150 people comprise of a small core group of 5 (our relatives), support groups of 15 (our close friends), and band-sized numbers of around 50 (our acquaintances).
The funny thing is that – although our social world has become increasingly complex -Dunbar’s number has never really changed throughout our evolutionary history.
150 seems to be the official amount of people we can know and deal with, whether it’s 200.000 years ago or in our nowadays, highly ‘connected’ world.
So your thousand Facebook friends may not be the best representation of your true social connections. In fact, studies showed that most people’s Facebook pages list only between 100 and 250 names. This would be in alignment with the number Dunbar predicted.
Our hyper-connected digital world is not making our brains bigger. It just amplifies and simplifies our existing communication. That’s it.
Social media has allowed us to coordinate our social lives in a way that is inexpressibly convenient.
But on these platforms, we don’t “create” true friendships.
These are still made in person, face-to-face.