Dunbar Cells and Social Network Design

Some concepts about measuring quality and size of proximity networks .

Another article on Dunbar. This time looking into how transaction and power architectures in multi-hop networks may look like. Differentiation networks by these properties allows to look at relative strengths of highly cohesive social networks including elitist networks, terrorist cells, and it might even explain the cohesion of highly effective innovation hubs. Let’s dive in.

Defining the concept of a social cell

So the different social circle sizes and their intensities from Dunbar are known. If not, read the slidedeck. We have

1.5 for intimacy
5.0 for Friends and Family
15.0 for broader definition of close friends
50.0 people for a network
150.0 for a community / the „known and approachable“ people

Dunbar Circles

Let’s forget about the 1.5 (in slide deck) and 5.0 (above) for a minute. the interesting one is the 15.0. And let’s look at the person X_1 and X_2.

Low performance Dunbar Networker X_1:
X_1 has his school friends from Ohio and some university friends from Colorado in his 15-circle which we call 15. The 15 are composed of gamers, slackers, nature lovers and bootleggers. Good. None of them knows Dunbar and he is their only real friend. Their 15 cirlces are at max 2-3 people and they are low commital. That is a standard network.

Dunbar Cells Defined

High performance Dunbar Networker X_2:
Now X_2 has 15 different people in his circle. Everyone in his circle is highly willing to do something together. Or there is a high willingness to transact all the time if it is rational – high transaction rates on irrational topics would define jocks. In the 15 circle of X_2, all are equal, but X_2 is a bit more of a leader. His power or ability to transact on transaction benefiting him super compared to benefits of the other 15. Now every person p in his X_2’s 15 circle is himself a leader type and boasts an impressive additional perfect 15 circle. Maybe they transact a bit less. But hey, that is 225 people (15X15) plus the original 15. So let’s assume there is also a cohesion in intent and vision and 65% of the 225 are even part of something we would call a „prime grade 1-hop Dunbar-15 cell“. If we assume some folks do care a bit less about the agenda of X_2, and we say 65% of the 225 prime cell are active members, – tadaa – we count 150 people. By Dunbar’s model, that is a community. It his highly cohesive and network-perfect for X_2 who controls top-tier people in his 15, who control top-tier people in their 15. Sounds too good to be true? Yes, that is a boundary case.

So we have a strong 0-hop Dunbar-15 network called a core. And a 1-hop Dunbar-15 network called cell. There it is: a prime cell. The relationship of dunbar 15 to 150 is 1:10. So we can assume that is a 1:5 times two relationship. That means that X_2 is having 2 besties, who co-run a close circle of 15 people. Who have each 2 besties who help them run two 5 circles each. That is a maximum cohesive, or prime 1-Hop Dunbar-12 Cell.

We can continue the game, the folks in the Cell also have their own cells. And there we go. That is essentially how a terrorist organization works. Or what you can read about in anarchist forums.

Now add the 50 circles. Those are people that rarely transact, but by the nature of their relationship and trust level are willing to transact if the proposal presented at hand is reasonable and plausible and defensible.

So those folks don’t make up a cell. They make up a shell. The thing around a cell. X_1 probably doesn’t even maintain a shell. X_2 has a shell. And very likely, the circles of his Dunbar 50 have Shells, too. 15 * 50


Schreibe einen Kommentar

Deine E-Mail-Adresse wird nicht veröffentlicht. Erforderliche Felder sind mit * markiert.

Next Post

Group Structures and Population Clusters

Mo Jun 3 , 2019
How do teams form groups and groups form networks and how do networks settle in regions, ecosystems, cities and neighborhoods. And what does it mean to have 7.5 Billion humans on earth? In the Numbers Series I am looking to find meaning in numbers. What is a million? What is a thousand? What is a billion? Group structures and population clusters looks at group formations. Starting from how how team structures are used to build large organizations and how Dunbar's theory of cognitive capacity to manage cohesions in group sizes, I look at some numbers in the context of population economics and group structures.