Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

© Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2016. Human conversation groups have a characteristic size limit at around four individuals. Although mixed-sex social groups can be significantly larger than this, census data on casual social groups suggest that there is a fractal pattern of fission in conversations when social group size is a multiple of this value. This study suggests that, as social group size increases beyond four, there is a tendency for sexual segregation to occur resulting in an increasing frequency of single-sex conversational subgroups. It is not clear why conversations fragment in this way, but a likely explanation is that sex differences in conversational style result in women (in particular) preferring to join all-female conversations when a social group is large enough to allow this.

Original publication




Journal article



Publication Date





1 - 14