What the study showed
Each of us has a wider social circle of about 600 people. In fact, Tyler McCormick, a professor in the departments of statistics and sociology at the University of Washington, calculated that each person has an average of 611 acquaintances.
The way he came to this conclusion was by asking participants in his survey how many people knew the same person.
For example, there are more than three million Americans named Michael, making up about 1% of the population, according to the National Social Security Administration. Therefore, Michaels should also make up 1% of one's acquaintances. If someone knows eight Michaels, they probably know about 800 people.
Repeating the exercise with a dozen or so names results in a series of estimates that are used for a more accurate final result.
How many close friends do we have
When asked how many close friends they have, about half of Americans say three or fewer, according to a 2021 survey. British anthropologist Robin Dunbar, based on studies of the brain sizes of humans and other primates, estimates that a person can maintain only about 150 relationships. The so-called Dunbar number, he said, “applies to quality relationships, not dating.” A Pew Research study found that adults with a Facebook account had an average of 338 friends there.
The number of people one knows, without considering them friends, is probably much higher. McCormick's definition of these relationships is, “that you know them and they know you by sight or name, that you could contact them, that they live in the United States, and that there has been some contact” in the past two years.
This wider circle of acquaintances, as opposed to friends, is of great importance. Sociologist Mark Granovetter showed through a paper that someone's ordinary acquaintances are more useful when looking for a job than their close friends.
moneyreview.gr with information from Wall Street Journal