Human Nature

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 67–78 | Cite as

Size and structure of freely forming conversational groups

  • R. I. M. Dunbar
  • N. D. C. Duncan
  • D. Nettle


Data from various settings suggest that there is an upper limit of about four on the number of individuals who can interact in spontaneous conversation. This limit appears to be a consequence of the mechanisms of speech production and detection. There appear to be no differences between men and women in this respect, other than those introduced by women’s lighter voices.

Key words

Conversation Group size Speech detection Spacing 


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Copyright information

© Walter de Gruyter, Inc 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. I. M. Dunbar
    • 1
  • N. D. C. Duncan
    • 2
  • D. Nettle
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyUniversity of LiverpoolLiverpoolEngland
  2. 2.University College LondonUK

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