Calling Dunbar's numbers

P. Mac Carron*, K. Kaski, R. Dunbar

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)
294 Downloads (Pure)


The social brain hypothesis predicts that humans have an average of about 150 relationships at any given time. Within this 150, there are layers of friends of an ego, where the number of friends in a layer increases as the emotional closeness decreases. Here we analyse a mobile phone dataset, firstly, to ascertain whether layers of friends can be identified based on call frequency. We then apply different clustering algorithms to break the call frequency of egos into clusters and compare the number of alters in each cluster with the layer size predicted by the social brain hypothesis. In this dataset we find strong evidence for the existence of a layered structure. The clustering yields results that match well with previous studies for the innermost and outermost layers, but for layers in between we observe large variability.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)151-155
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Brain
  • Communication
  • Ego
  • Hypothesis
  • Networks
  • Social

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Calling Dunbar's numbers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this