- Wed, August 22 2012
- Filed under: Social networking and web 2.0
According to ReadWriteWeb, British anthropologists and psychologists writing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B have found a direct linear relationship between the size of a person’s social network and the size of an area of the brain known as the orbital prefrontal cortex.
Interestingly, the team of researchers included Robin Dunbar, who created the Dunbar Number. It quantifies the number of meaningful relationships a person can maintain - which according to Dunbar is 150 people. I guess “meaningful” is a relative term. Anyway, according to ReadWriteWeb, “Establishing a new correlation between social networks and prefrontal cortex size lends credibility to Dunbar’s assertions that our brains aren’t big to be smart, but to help us manage relationships that will ultimately help us survive. In other words, a really smart loner caveman was less likely to survive than the average guy everybody liked to come along on the mammoth hunt.”
So the bigger your prefrontal cortex, the more likely you were to land a mammoth steak then - or the more friends you can handle on Facebook now.
Then there’s the ability to get where other people are coming from - also known as “theory of mind” skill. Pair that with a big orbital prefrontal cortex and you’re a social butterfly.
So what do we do with this information? Well, you could insist on an MRI for your next social media manager as Roger Dooley jokes in another article.
Or you could recognize a larger fact, as Roger also points out. Some people are more wired for social graces than others. Seek out the naturals at forging connections when you look for staff to network for your organization. It’s hard to teach someone how to make connections with facility - especially if their orbital prefrontal cortex is on the wee bitty side. You may be better off going with nature over nurture. Hire the social butterfly rather than trying to hatch one.