New Study Reveals What We All Already Knew About Facebook Friends

by : Tom Percival on : 25 Jan 2016 12:00
facebook friendsfacebook friendsDPA

A new study has confirmed what you probably already know – most of the people on your Facebook friends list don’t give a shit about you.

The Independent reports, Robin Dunbar, a professor of psychology at Oxford University, led the study to find out the connection between whether people who have lots of Facebook friends have a lot of real-life friends.


His research discovered, rather unsurprisingly, that the vast bulk of your friends list don’t care about your problems and that, even if you have hundreds of Facebook friends, you could only really depend on four of them, on average.


Professor Dunbar found there was very little connection between having friends on social networks and actually being able to depend on them, and most of us don’t even speak regularly to our ‘online friends’.

His study found that the average person had around 150 Facebook friends. But only about 14 of them would express sympathy in the event of anything going wrong.


Thankfully, most people seem aware that Facebook friends aren’t ‘real’ and the average person thinks that about 27 per cent of their Facebook friends are genuine.


These numbers are similar to how friendships work in real life, the research said. However, the huge number of supposed friends on a friend list means that people can be fooled into believing that they have more close friends than they actually do.

Professor Dunbar wrote:


In practical terms, it may reflect the fact that real (as opposed to casual) relationships require at least occasional face-to-face interaction to maintain them.

The research claims Facebook friends tend to be organised in different layers. Around four to five of your closest friends will be in the first layer, the layers then break down to 15 people, 50 and 150 and so on, as each group gets larger and less close to you.

As interesting as the study is, we can’t help but think this is something everyone already knew.

Tom Percival

More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism. Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV. He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.

Topics: News


The Independent
  1. The Independent

    Facebook friends are almost entirely fake, finds study