Robin Dunbar

Robin Dunbar
University of Oxford | OX · Department of Experimental Psychology

DSc (Hon) Science & Technology (2013) Aalto University Finland

About

558
Publications
256,479
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
43,280
Citations
Additional affiliations
October 1994 - September 2007
University of Liverpool
Position
  • Professor
October 1988 - September 1994
University College London
Position
  • Professor
October 1986 - September 1988
University of Liverpool
Position
  • Research Fellow
Education
October 1970 - October 1973
University of Bristol
Field of study
  • Behavioural ecology
October 1966 - June 1969
University of Oxford
Field of study
  • Philosophy and Psychology

Publications

Publications (558)
Article
Full-text available
Humans are social animals and the interpersonal bonds formed between them are crucial for their development and well being in a society. These relationships are usually structured into several layers (Dunbar’s layers of friendship) depending on their significance in an individual’s life with closest friends and family being the most important ones...
Preprint
Full-text available
The social brain hypothesis was proposed 30 years ago as an explanation for the fact that primates have much larger brains than all other animals. The claim was that primates live in unusually complex societies, and hence need a large 'computer' to manage the relationships involved. The core evidence subsequently provided in support of this claim w...
Preprint
We analyze the ego-alter Twitter networks of 300 Italian MPs and 18 European leaders, and of about 14,000 generic users. We find structural properties typical of social environments, meaning that Twitter activity is controlled by constraints that are similar to those shaping conventional social relationships. However, the evolution of ego-alter tie...
Preprint
We use data on frequencies of bi-directional posts to define edges (or relationships) in two Facebook datasets and a Twitter dataset and use these to create ego-centric social networks. We explore the internal structure of these networks to determine whether they have the same kind of layered structure as has been found in offline face-to-face netw...
Preprint
Full-text available
Humans are social animals and the interpersonal bonds formed between them are crucial for their development and well being in a society. These relationships are usually structured into several layers (Dunbar's layers of friendship) depending on their significance in an individual's life with closest friends and family being the most important ones...
Article
Full-text available
Human behaviour follows a 24-h rhythm and is known to be governed by the individual chronotypes. Due to the widespread use of technology in our daily lives, it is possible to record the activities of individuals through their different digital traces. In the present study we utilise a large mobile phone communication dataset containing time stamps...
Preprint
Full-text available
Human behaviour follows a 24-hour rhythm and is known to be governed by the individual chronotypes. Due to the widespread use of technology in our daily lives, it is possible to record the activities of individuals through their different digital traces. In the present study we utilise a large mobile phone communication dataset containing time stam...
Article
Full-text available
Personality affects dyadic relations and teamwork, yet its role among groups of friends has been little explored. We examine for the first time whether similarity in personality enhances the effectiveness of real-life friendship groups. Using data from a longitudinal study of a European fraternity (10 male and 15 female groups), we investigate how...
Article
Full-text available
In human relations individuals’ gender and age play a key role in the structures and dynamics of their social arrangements. In order to analyze the gender preferences of individuals in interaction with others at different stages of their lives we study a large mobile phone dataset. To do this we consider four fundamental gender-related caller and c...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives In humans (and primates more generally), evolutionary fitness arises by two separate routes: conventional reproduction build around dyadic relationships and, reflecting the processes of group augmentation selection, how well individuals are embedded in their community. These processes are facilitated by a suite of genetically inherited n...
Article
Full-text available
Most studies of social cognition have focused on dyadic relationships, and rather few have looked at how we engage with individuals in the wider social world into which we are embedded. Here we use principle component analysis (PCA) and path analysis to explore how different aspects of human sociality interact. We demonstrate two distinct clusters...
Data
Descriptive statistics of variables included. (PDF)
Data
Data file. Data for 'Exploring the links between dispositions, romantic relationships, support networks and community inclusion in men and women'. (XLSX)
Data
Path analysis regressions for females. Partial relationships used to conduct the path analysis for females, controlling for all other variables in a multiple linear regression. ns = not significant. R2 values are given for the full models predicting each variable from all other variables. (PDF)
Data
Path analysis regressions for males. Partial relationships used to conduct the path analysis for males, controlling for all other variables in a multiple linear regression. ns = not significant. R2 values are given for the full models predicting each variable from all other variables. (PDF)
Article
We develop a time budget model for the hylobatid family with the aim of assessing the extent to which their contemporary and historical biogeographic distributions might be explained by ecological constraints. The model uses local climate to predict time budgets, and from this the limiting size of social group that animals could manage at a given l...
Article
Full-text available
Objectives Sociality is underpinned by a variety of neurochemicals. We previously showed, in a large healthy Caucasian sample, that genes for different neurochemicals are typically associated with differing social domains (disposition, romantic relationships and networks). Here we seek to confirm the validity of these findings by asking whether the...
Article
The ratio between the second and fourth digits (2D:4D) has been widely used as a proxy for fetal exposure to androgens and has been linked to a number of sociosexual traits in humans. However, the role of genes in this equation remains unknown. Here (N = 474), we test, firstly, for associations between 2D:4D and single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP...
Preprint
Full-text available
The question as to whether there is a lag between brain and body mass evolution was ostensibly solved two decades ago by Deaner & Nunn (1999) who used phylogenetic methods to show that there was no evidence to suggest that changes in brain size lagged behind changes in body size. However, their assumption that body size would always change ahead of...
Preprint
Full-text available
Primates use social grooming to create and maintain coalitions. Because of this, individuals focus their time on a small number of individuals, and this means that in many cases group networks are not fully connected. I use data on primate grooming networks to show that three different social grades can be differentiated in terms of network structu...
Article
Full-text available
The structure of egocentric networks reflects the way people balance their need for strong, emotionally intense relationships and a diversity of weaker ties. Egocentric network structure can be quantified with 'social signatures', which describe how people distribute their communication effort across the members (alters) of their personal networks....
Article
Full-text available
Group-living offers both benefits (protection against predators, access to resources) and costs (increased ecological competition, the impact of group size on fertility). Here, we use cluster analysis to detect natural patternings in a comprehensive sample of baboon groups, and identify a geometric sequence with peaks at approximately 20, 40, 80 an...
Data
Mid-sleep time tmid for different age and gender cohorts. tmid is calculated as the time at middle of the interval between the mean time of the last call and of the first call, as a function of the age and gender of different cohorts, for six of the seven most populated cities in the dataset in 2007. For each age cohort, tmid is calculated for fema...
Data
Distribution of cities by population size in 2007. The values are rounded to multiples of 50,000 to keep the identity of each city unknown. (TIF)
Data
Period of low calling activity TLCA for different age and gender cohorts. The TLCA is calculated as the elapsed time between the mean time of the last call and of the first call, as a function of the age and gender of different cohorts, for the six most populated city in the dataset in 2007. For each age cohort, TLCA is calculated for females (circ...
Article
Full-text available
We analyze the ego-alter Twitter networks of 300 Italian MPs and 18 European leaders, and of about 14,000 generic users. We find structural properties typical of social environments, meaning that Twitter activity is controlled by constraints that are similar to those shaping conventional social relationships. However, the evolution of ego-alter tie...
Article
Full-text available
Group synchronised dance is hypothesised to activate the Endogenous Opioid System (EOS), thereby increasing pain threshold, and encouraging social closeness. Previous studies have been limited to the use of pain threshold as a proxy indicator of EOS activation. We conducted a double-blind administration of placebo and naltrexone (an endorphin antag...
Article
Full-text available
Alcohol use has a long and ubiquitous history. Despite considerable research on the misuse of alcohol, no one has ever asked why it might have become universally adopted, although the conventional view assumes that its only benefit is hedonic. In contrast, we suggest that alcohol consumption was adopted because it has social benefits that relate bo...
Article
Full-text available
Ego networks models describe the social relationships of an individual (ego) with its social peers (alters). The structural properties of ego networks are known to determine many aspects of the human social behavior, such as willingness to cooperate and share resources. Due to their importance, we have investigated if Online Social Networks fundame...
Article
There is growing evidence that the number and quality of social relationships have substantial impacts on health, well-being, and longevity, and, at least in animals, on reproductive fitness. Although it is widely recognized that these outcomes are mediated by a number of neuropeptides, the roles these play remain debated. We suggest that an overem...
Article
Full-text available
Author summary For humans living in urban areas, the modern daily life is very different from that of people who lived in ancient times, from which todays’ societies evolved. Mainly due to the availability of artificial lighting, modern humans have been able to modify their natural daily cycles. In addition, social rules, like those related to work...
Article
Full-text available
We study the influence of seasonally and geographically related daily dynamics of daylight and ambient temperature on human resting or sleeping patterns using mobile phone data of a large number of individuals. We observe two daily inactivity periods in the people's aggregated mobile phone calling patterns and infer these to represent the resting t...
Article
Full-text available
In human relations individuals' gender and age play a key role in the structures and dynamics of their social arrangements. In order to analyze the gender preferences of individuals in interaction with others at different stages of their lives we study a large mobile phone dataset. To do this we consider four fundamental gender-related caller and c...
Article
Although it has been shown that singing together encourages faster social bonding to a group compared with other activities, it is unknown whether this group-level “collective” bonding is associated with differences in the ties formed between individual singers and individuals engaging in other activities (“relational” bonding). Here we present sel...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this study was to examine differences in the neural processing of social information about kin and friends at different levels of closeness and social network level. Twenty-five female participants engaged in a cognitive social task involving different individuals in their social network while undergoing functional magnetic resonance ima...
Chapter
In der Menschheitsgeschichte gab es während der Laufzeit des Lucy-Projekts zwei Meilensteine. Im Jahr 2007 lebten zum ersten Mal mehr Menschen in Städten als auf dem Land, und 2011 wuchs die Weltbevölkerung auf mehr als 7 Mrd. Die Archäologie rückt diese Wendepunkte in den richtigen Zusammenhang. Vor 11.000 Jahren, am Ende der Eiszeit, bestand die...
Chapter
Was macht uns eigentlich zu Menschen? Wenn man die Evolution des Menschen erforschen will, besteht eines der größten Probleme darin, dass wir uns selbst definieren. Vor rund 300 Jahren taufte uns Carl von Linné, der große schwedische Klassifikator der Tiere und Pflanzen, auf den Namen Homo sapiens, der kluge Mensch. Und er schrieb auch: „Homo. Nosc...
Chapter
In der Familie der Primaten machte die Evolution eine großartige Erfindung: das Sozialleben. Aber das Leben in Gruppen hat seinen Preis. Je mehr Tiere die Gruppe umfasst, desto größere Strecken muss man jeden Tag zurücklegen, denn jedes Tier muss in einem ungefähr gleich großen Gebiet auf die Suche gehen, um die benötigte Nahrung zu finden. Das bed...
Article
Full-text available
Humans have developed a number of specific mechanisms that allow us to maintain much larger social networks than would be expected given our brain size. For our primate cousins, social bonding is primarily supported using grooming, and the bonding effect this produces is primarily mechanistically underpinned by the release of endorphins (although o...
Article
We appreciate Falcon's [[1][1]] interest in our paper on male and female mating strategies in humans. However, she addresses a rather different issue to the one we were interested in. Her concern is with whether the psychological dispositions implied by the anatomical and sociological indices we
Article
Singing together seems to facilitate social bonding, but it is unclear whether this is true in all contexts. Here we examine the social bonding outcomes of naturalistic singing behaviour in a European university Fraternity composed of exclusive “Cliques”: recognised sub-groups of 5–20 friends who adopt a special name and identity. Singing occurs fr...
Article
Full-text available
Bipedality evolved early in hominin evolution, and at some point was associated with hair loss over most of the body. One classic explanation (Wheeler 1984: J. Hum. Evol. 13, 91–98) was that these traits evolved to reduce heat overload when australopiths were foraging in more open tropical habitats where they were exposed to the direct effects of s...
Article
Moving in synchrony leads to cooperative behaviour and feelings of social closeness, and dance (involving synchronisation to others and music) may cause social bonding, possibly as a consequence of released endorphins. This study uses an experimental paradigm to determine which aspects of synchrony in dance are associated with changes in pain thres...
Chapter
Stellen wir uns einmal Folgendes vor: Außerirdische besuchen, getrieben von langen Erinnerungen und der typischen Neugier intergalaktischer Touristen, alle 500.000 Jahre die Erde. Vor 1,5 und einer Million Jahren fanden sie bei ihren Visiten den Homo erectus und wunderten sich darüber, wie langsam der Wandel ablief. Bei ihrem nächsten Besuch vor 50...
Chapter
Die Evolution des Menschen ist eine legendäre Geschichte, die uns immer wieder aufs Neue fasziniert und verzaubert. In unserer Vergangenheit verbirgt sich einer der Triumphe der Evolution: der Prozess, durch den sich sowohl die äußere Gestalt als auch die Lebensweise eines gewöhnlichen afrikanischen Menschenaffen so veränderten, dass er am Ende zur...
Chapter
Der schwierigste Teil jedes Forschungsprojekts ist die Überprüfung von Ideen. Sie macht aber auch am meisten Spaß. Die Archäologen, die in diesem Kapitel die weitere Geschichte erzählen, überprüfen ihre Ideen mithilfe handfester Belege. Ausgrabungen haben nicht den Zweck, antike Gegenstände um ihrer selbst willen zu bergen, sondern wir wollen damit...
Chapter
Mit der Vorstellung vom sozialen Gehirn verfügen wir über eine starke Hypothese: Danach war unser Sozialleben die Triebkraft für das Wachstum unseres Gehirns. Aber von welchem Zeitpunkt an wenden wir diese Hypothese auf die Evolution des Menschen an? Und wie überprüfen wir sie? Manche Hypothesen, beispielsweise dass Objekte mit unterschiedlicher Ma...
Book
Die Entdeckung der Gemeinsamkeit Dieses bemerkenswerte Buch, das die Evolution und die Archäologie des menschlichen Sozialverhaltens zusammenführt, spannt den Bogen von den sozialen Gruppen der Steinzeit bis zu den modernen digitalen Netzwerken – und zeigt, dass wir heute in sozialen Welten leben, die sich tief in unserer evolutionären Vergangenhei...
Chapter
In this chapter, we introduce the concept of ‘social network’, and we provide an intuitive and sharp distinction between ‘offline’ and ‘online’ social networks. Then, we describe the main features of Facebook and Twitter, the two online social networks (OSNs) discussed in this book. We show how they are actively contributing to the cyber-physical w...
Chapter
In this chapter, we present a review of the properties of social networks in offline and online environments. We begin by looking at a social network from a macroscopic level and show how social networks can naturally be represented as graphs. We present complex network indices aimed at describing the overall structure of these graphs. Then, we int...
Chapter
This chapter presents a series of analyses that investigate the properties of tie strength and ego networks in Facebook. Specifically, we provide models to estimate tie strength through communication data in Facebook, and then study the properties of ego networks defined by the estimated tie strength. The first analysis provides a characterisation...
Chapter
In this chapter, we characterise the structure of ego networks in Twitter. First, we describe the large-scale dataset that we collected from Twitter specifically for this part of the analysis. Then, we present an analysis of the structural properties of the Twitter ego networks extracted from the dataset. The analysis is similar to the one performe...
Chapter
In this chapter, we summarise and discuss the main findings presented in this book, and suggest how these findings can be used for extending existing models for the analysis of social phenomena, such as models for the study of information diffusion in social networks. In addition, we present a series of possible applications of the findings, aimed...
Chapter
In this chapter, we report an analysis on the dynamic evolution of Twitter ego networks over time. We have been able to perform this analysis thanks to the accurate temporal information contained in the Twitter dataset that we have collected. These data allowed us to create a time series for each ego network, and to study how the size and the compo...
Article
Full-text available
In this paper we examine the role of lies in human social relations by implementing some salient characteristics of deceptive interactions into an opinion formation model, so as to describe the dynamical behaviour of a social network more realistically. In this model we take into account such basic properties of social networks as the dynamics of t...
Article
In this paper, we examine the role of lies in human social relations by implementing some salient characteristics of deceptive interactions into an opinion formation model, so as to describe the dynamical behaviour of a social network more realistically. In this model, we take into account such basic properties of social networks as the dynamics of...
Article
Full-text available
We use data on frequencies of bi-directional posts to define edges (or relationships) in two Facebook datasets and a Twitter dataset and use these to create ego-centric social networks. We explore the internal structure of these networks to determine whether they have the same kind of layered structure as has been found in offline face-to-face netw...
Article
Full-text available
There has recently been interest in the ways in which coordinated movements encourage coactors to feel socially closer to one another, but this has generally overlooked the importance of necessary precursors to this joint action. Here we target two low-level behaviours involved in social coordination that may mediate a relationship between joint ac...
Article
Humans have been found to display considerable variety in their pursuit of mating strategies, varying in their preference for short-term mating encounters versus established long-term relationships. While we know that differences in mating strategy exist between the two sexes (as predicted by parental investment theory), it has recently been shown...
Article
Full-text available
Homophily, the tendency for individuals to associate with those who are most similar to them, has been well documented. However, the influence of different kinds of similarity (e.g. relating to age, music taste, ethical views) in initial preferences for a stranger have not been compared. In the current study, we test for a relationship between shar...