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Human social networks typically consist of a hierarchically organized series of grouping levels. There is, however, considerable variation between individuals in the sizes of any given network layer. We test between two possible factors (memory capacity and theory of mind) that might limit the size of two different levels within human social networks (support cliques and sympathy groups). We show that the size of an individual's support clique (the number of individual's in the innermost circle of friends) is better explained by individual differences in social cognition (mentalising skills). However, the size of the sympathy group (the most frequent social partners) is better explained by individual's performance on memory tasks. © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Original publication




Journal article


Social Networks

Publication Date





93 - 104