27 Jul New paper on PNAS on the organization of our relationships
Today, our research on how we organize our relationships, or in more technical words, on a theoretical foundation for the empirical observation of Dunbar’s circles, is out in PNAS. It is a very exciting work, mostly done by my Ph.D. student Ignacio Tamarit, in which we use the maximum entropy principle to predict that, if our cognitive resources are limited, the number of relationships of different intensities is the one predicted by Dunbar. Interestingly, the theory also predicts that if there are only a few people with which one can establish a relationship, they will all be of very close friendship. Thanks to data provided by our friend José Luis Molina from Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, we have shown that this is indeed the case in small, closed communities of immigrants. This is a very nice result in so far as, to our knowledge, no other mathematical theory has predicted a social phenomenon that has never been observed. The work arises from a project funded by Fundación BBVA, to whom we are very grateful.