Dunbars Number??

Ive read in “tipping point” about dunbars number, which basically says that the capacity to any sort of social group - whatever if its a roman soldier company or an amish community, is 150. At this capacity each member of the group can be familiar and comfertable with any other member of the group. When additional people join some group(above 150) theyre considered strangers, and the “veterans” of the group do not feel comfertable with the newcomers, start forming up clans, and bad things start to happen.
There is one thing i dont understand: Say we have a village of 150 people where everyone knows everyone, and some guy from that village joins the army into a company of 150 soldiers. How can that company funtion? Each of these soldiers were drafted from little villages/towns as well, which all have thier 150 - 230 social capacity. How could that rule be true both to the military company, AND the village where the soldier lived in?

are you asking how the newly enlisted soldier can handle all the new people from his platoon, since his “monkeysphere” is full-up from his village members?

as i understand it, it isn’t a black and white, on-off type thing.

i can say from my life experience that someone very much embedded in your social sphere (dunbar’s number/monkeysphere) will be pushed out of your immediate social mind when they aren’t nearby and someone else locally steps into their previous role.

i call it “the proximity effect” and it is why boyfriends back home when a girl goes off to college are in great danger of loss ;b

but seriously, i had a close friend i spoke with often.
i think i have a “low number” dunbar’s number. they say it varies. i am a lower-social contact animal. i want to be left alone. so i make stronger one-on-one connections that get trumped by others. it’s hard for me to keep strong social contact with many people at once. i am inclined to coexist parallel to them, but constant interaction drains me.
so this friend whom i spoke with often–
she was replaced with a current girlfriend…who took a lot of my social energy and demanded any left over be spent on interacting with her family and her friends.
so the original female friend, whom i was quite close with…she vanished from my mind.
i really don’t know how else to explain it–she just ceased to exist for a while. after the gf and i broke up and i started realizing i needed to mix back in w my own social circles, i went “OH HEY! sam exists! i totally forgot she was even a person!”

i think this is what you are asking–
people from the village stop being in the forefront of the soldier’s social mind, replaced by more daily interactions.

and when they go back home, it will shift.
most people will always remember important social counterparts to varying degrees, but their Dunbar’s value decreases or increases based on proximity and level of interactions.

I always thought Dunbar’s number had less to do with individuals and more to do with organizations. That is, an individual can move from one group to another with no problem, but organizations work best when they’re kept around 50-200 people. This is why the Army has “companies” and most large corporations have departments.

Dunbar’s Number.

As soon as you start thinking about 150 as being the max and people go sproing at 151 you’re thinking about it wrong.

As I understand it, a primary function of boot camp is to make sure a soldier’s social group is the military before he’s put out on the field of battle. It’s an adjusting period as you’re leaving the old social group and integrating into a new one. That’s why some activities (like marching in formation) seem relatively pointless if you think basic is only about learning how to kill the enemy.

But I think you’re also reading too much into “and bad things start to happen.” Larger groups do tend to form smaller sub-groups, but that’s why laws, representative government, chain of command, social customs, seniority, etc. step in place. These are the systems we use to cope with an essentially infinite number of other people who are not part of our immediate social sphere.

That’s just acculturation though. For the most part, the people you go to basic training with are not the same people in your regular army unit on the battlefield.

In the Army (as with most organizations) there is an adjustment period when you first join a new unit. You learn who the commander is, who is the XO, the first sergeant, the supply clerk. Who do you talk to when the toilet in the barracks stops working? You slowly memorize faces, names, roles and relationships. But you still have no clue what the Sergeant Major of the Army does. THAT is more illustrative of the Dunbar principle, to me.

dunbar’s number is more like you know your friends and family…you know what they do and what they like. their hobbies, their jobs, their favorite shows or food and how they inter-relate…who they are married to and how it all makes sense. they are in your monkeysphere.

but then there’s the woman who checks you out at the grocery store. that is her role in your monkeysphere…she isn’t a real person with relationships you know all about, hobbies or feelings or anything else. she is just a bystander in your universe.

this has to do with how our brains can deal with groups. the amount of people we can sustain high-level social intimacy with is the dunbar number. for most people, it’s around 150-200.
when we meet someone else and they become someone we care about (and learn intimate social details about), all that gets shifted cognitively. for the sake of managing all this, we often pigeon hole people into being flat characters who are outside our dunbar’s number or monkeysphere.

they become just the walmart lady, or just the gas station girl, or just the gym guy.

Could one individual have several monkeyspheres? Could he have a 100 sphere at work, and 230 at the village/town?

If you were wondering…

The Monkeysphere

I believe this is exactly how it works. remember the Seinfeld about “worlds colliding?” all jokes aside, i think part of why we section off spheres is another factor in how we parse groupings. When my groups mix in together, my ability to organize folks by what I considered meaningful associations shifts…or even dissolves.

I am surprised to see Wong coined that term, since I’ve seen it used everywhere (including the wiki article on dunbars number).

That is one of the best articles from the site.

(great username, btw)