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You have evolved to interact with 150 people or less?

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And purely for your own benefit? That’s “Dunbar’s Number, ”apparently.

At Forbes, David DiSalvo tells us re a study of empathy,

Research in this category also dovetails nicely with that conducted by evolutionary psychologist Robin Dunbar, whose work has shown that we seem to have evolved to cognitively connect in relatively small groups of roughly 150 or less people (often referred to as “Dunbar’s Number”). Beyond that number, our brains strain to sync with others. From an evolutionary standpoint, this makes a lot of sense because chances of survival for ourselves and the group are amplified if we can devote the greatest level of cognitive resources to the task.

“A threat to ourselves is a threat to our resources,” said Coan. “Threats can take things away from us. But when we develop friendships, people we can trust and rely on who in essence become we, then our resources are expanded, we gain. Your goal becomes my goal. It’s a part of our survivability.”

Well, it’s part of evolutionary psychology, anyway. And not part of the life experience of people who are used to living in large but cohesive groups, like dynamic churches.

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

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