What is Six Degrees of Separation? Theory, Test & Examples

Has your gut always told you that you’re just a few connections away from meeting your next best buddy? While this may sound bizarre to you, The Six Degrees of Separation states otherwise and may even possibly tweak your rigid ideology when it proves you wrong.

The Six Degrees of Separation theory states that you’re just six people or fewer away from meeting a new social connection in the world. It means that you can meet your desired person through a chain of colleagues, friends, and family. Just imagine how cool would it be for you to meet your favorite celebrity if this worked in your life!

But how exactly does this theory work and how can you put it into practice? Let’s dive deep to know more!

The Science Behind The Six Degrees of Separation

This interesting theory was developed by Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy in 1930 in the form of a story called Chain-Links. According to Karinthy, the science behind the theory is based on a formula which decodes how many people does a person know on an average.

As per this theory, each person knows about 100 people through various channels and those 100 people may know another 100 people which would increase the chain to 10,000 in just the second connection. The best part is you could meet most of them if you asked your friends or family to introduce them to you.

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When the chain expands to the fourth and the fifth link, you would have 100,000,000 and 10,000,000,000 people respectively. At the end of the sixth link, you would have gained a potential 1,000,000,000,000 contacts which is more than the population of Earth’s inhabitants. While meeting all of them is impossible, you could network with so many potential friends and acquaintances with the help of this theory.

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The Six Degrees of Separation Test

If you had any thoughts that this theory is absolutely rubbish or is a waste of time, let’s explain to you how this theory works in practice to gain your faith. Let’s assume that you know a person who works as a waiter at a five-star hotel. The waiter knows the manager of the hotel who in turn knows the owner of the hotel he works in.

The owner of this hotel knows the owner of another hotel who has a great relationship with the manager of Hollywood actor Tom Cruise. As you may have noticed, through just six connections you got in contact with Tom Cruise and that too without much effort. Although this theory may not always work with the closest connections, it may work even when these are the connections of your family or friends.

Six Degrees of Separation - Kevin Bacon
Source: Chris Ware – Herald Leader

Movies Based on The Six Degrees of Separation

Now that you know how this theory works in practice, how about indulging in a few flicks to see it working in front of your eyes! Hollywood has loved working with science and has gone on to make many films based on this theory.

The most noted film is that of Six Degrees of Separation starring Will Smith and Stockard Channing in lead roles. The film revolves around the lives of a New York based art dealing couple whose lives take a massive turn when an unidentified African-American enters their lives.

Six Degrees of Separation – Ouisa’s Final Speech

Other movies which bear a similar plot include Winter Kills, Love at Large, and The Family Fang to name a few. If you happen to like Six Degrees of Separation, do watch all of these to get a feel of how this theory works. Thank us later if you become a firm believer of it!

Six Degrees of Separation on Social Media

With the advent of Internet and the emergence of social media, it has become easier to find connections online which has led to alterations in this theory. With everybody being on social media, all it takes is just 2 connections these days to find your next treasured contact of your life. That’s how simple our lives have become in the 21st century!

According to a 2016 report from Facebook, the average distance between connecting two people had decreased to 3.57 and if the trend continues, then by 2030 it would take us just 1 connection to meet our next best friend or colleague online. This would make sure that we befriend anyone quickly and easily.

However, there is a downside to it. A lot of experts opine that while it may connect us with people more directly, the number of subsidiary connections may reduce drastically thereby reducing the overall number of connections.

For example, the original theory states that it takes 6 people on an average to connect two people. Fast forward to 2030 and this rate would reduce to just 1 per two people. Therefore, the number of connections you can foster on the way to meet your desired person has gone down and has reduced the overall number as well. Now whether this is a boon or a bane, it is solely left to you!

FAQs on Six Degrees of Separation

Is the Six Degrees of Separation Theory True?

While it may seem hard to believe that, this theory is true when it comes to networking and fostering social relationships

What are some famous examples of the Six Degrees of Separation?

One of the most prominent examples of this theory is the Bacon’s Law where it focused on connecting two actors based on the films that they have done together and ultimately connects them back to Hollywood actor Kevin Bacon.

What are some famous examples of the Six Degrees of Separation?

As of the 21st century, the average degree of separation stands at 3.57 or three and a half intermediaries. It has reduced from 4.57 in the last five years.