View Full Version : Identical Twins

01-14-2007, 10:20 PM
We've all heard the stories of twins seperated at birth, who lived seperate lives and yet, when they meet, find some amazing parallels - such as marrying on the same date men with the same name, or choosing the same wedding ring, or whatever.

WOuld it be likely or believable for identical twins to turn into the very oppoite of each other, due to upbringing? For instance, one enters a convent, the other becomes a porn star - just to take a very extreme example?

Variant Frequencies
01-14-2007, 10:30 PM
Sure. I would have no trouble believing that.

01-14-2007, 10:39 PM
Itís that same old nature vs. nurture thing. I think the twin studies show how powerful the genetic component can be - for example, if one twin basically has a positive outlook on life, the other will too, regardless of circumstances. It would be a stretch to have one twin depressed and suicidal and the other cheery and upbeat through life.

But environment can shape those basic predispositions is wildly varying ways. The same genetic package of intelligence, drive, and self-assuredness can equally produce a U.S. Senator or a John Dillinger. (Although there are those who would say thereís not much difference there.)

01-15-2007, 12:05 AM
Couple years ago, read an article about twins, including several separated at birth cases. The one that was cited as an end to the nature-versus-nurture debate was two twins separated right after birth. They found each other like forty years later.

Both were fire fighters, both married with two kids, and both had mustaches.

I think the case for nature is strong enough that seeing twins separated at birth ending up followng parallel lives is reasonable.

But I can't see a reason why Nuture would cause one to become exactly opposite of the other. I mean, I could see one twin experiencing things in teh world that would cause them to go off their genetic track, but I'd think they'd end up being "different", not "opposite".


ETA: I should have specified that I was talking about separated twins. If you have twins separated from birth, the idea of Nurture causing them to be symmetrically opposite in personality seems pretty rare. I could see them coming out different than each other, but mirrored opposites seems highly unlikely in a random Nurture environment.

If, on the other hand, you have twins growing up together, then I can see them growing up as opposites. There is the drive to differentiate yourself from others, so you try to act differently. There is also a drive to think stuff like "Well, I'm not going to make the same mistake THEY did." There are a number of drives that might push them to behave differently, but it works because they see how the other is behaving, so have a reference to behave differently from.

01-15-2007, 12:58 AM
I have to say that it is entirely possible for two identical twins to be completely different -- nay, opposites -- of one another. In the one case that I am thinking of, however, it turned out that way precisely because one of the twins was dead-set on stopping people from lumping him and his brother together as "The Twins." So, in other words, he deliberately fought Nurture.

It turned out this way, then, only because he KNEW he had an identical twin (and knew what his brother was like).

So, as far as a "separated at birth" storyline would go -- no, I wouldn't believe it.

Note, too, that identical physical characteristics tend to lead to some identical "personal" choices. For example, when two female twins were reunited after being separated at birth, it was discovered that they both adored wearing rings (i.e. wore 10 at a time, I think) ...

Well, it turned out that, because they both had long/lovely fingers, they had often been complimented on their hands, and both had (independently/separately) chosen to highlight this (get compliments) by wearing lots of rings. Growing mustaches would fall under this ... in some circumstances, althletics/hobbies might, too.

And then there's the general norm for growing up in the same country -- like, having two children -- and just plain coincidence -- firefighters?

Ol' Fashioned Girl
01-15-2007, 01:12 AM
I'm married to one of a set of identical twins... believe me, they're like day and night. Raised in the same house by the same two people for exactly the same time and one's an asshole who stole from his own father while the one I married wouldn't steal a dime if he was starving. 'The Bad Seed' is alive and well in one of them.

01-15-2007, 03:01 AM
The porn star/nun thing would be entirely possible, because morality is a learned thing. The biological factor might be both of them having an equal sex drive, or something like that.

01-15-2007, 06:34 AM
The porn star/nun thing would be entirely possible, because morality is a learned thing. The biological factor might be both of them having an equal sex drive, or something like that.

Huh? I'm sorry, but I don't understand exactly what you mean when you say that having an 'equal sex drive' could cause one to become a nun or a porn star.

Also, while I agree that (to a great extent) morality is learned -- I don't think it is merely morality that holds people back from becoming porn stars. For that matter, becoming a nun (as far as I know) has nothing to do with a woman's sex drive -- or even morality -- as much as a feeling of "being called" to a life of religious service.

OK, but back to the main question -- about twins -- I hate stories whose plots revolve around TWINness. They lead people to ask me and my twin sister ridiculous questions ...

But, hey, that's our hang-up, I guess.

Mac H.
01-15-2007, 11:15 AM
Would it be likely or believable for identical twins to turn into the very opposite of each other, due to upbringing?There is one famous story that is totally unbelievable.

It is the story of a fanatical Nazi (a Hitler Youth member during World War II), who discovers one day that he has a brother he'd never met. An identical twin brother. An identical twin brother who was Jewish !

Implausible? Of course. If it wasn't actually true, it would be the most inane plot twist in the history of fiction. But it happened.

Google 'Oskar and Jack' if you want more details.


01-15-2007, 06:49 PM
If it wasn't actually true, it would be the most inane plot twist in the history of fiction.

It would still be an inane plot twist, right up there with the jewish boy who helps a young adolf hitler.


I can't remember the exact line, but it goes something like this: "Fiction has to be truer than real life". There are a lot of real events in history that would cause readers to throw the book across the room were you to tell it in a fictional tale.

If the point of the plot device is simply the author saying "Gee that's a neat coincidence.", the problem is that a lot of readers will be thinking "I paid money to read this?"

01-15-2007, 07:23 PM
From the psychology viewpoint, people can be changed. Things such as trauma, drugs and abuse can make a person very different from what they would have been. Desperation can make people do things that they normally wouldn't. I doubt any prostitute as a child thought they wanted to grow up to solicit sex. Something happened along the way to turn them to that decision. It can be quite believable to have twins at opposite ends. Additionally, just because a pair of twins share an outward appearance, that doesn't lock them into being the same inwardly.

01-15-2007, 09:46 PM
They always tell us how twins separated at birth do and like the same things. They don't mention how different they are in other areas because that wouldn't be news, and wouldn't nmake people go hmmmmm.

It truth, twins separated at birth have as many differences as similarities.

01-15-2007, 10:19 PM
Very different childhoods could definately lead to two very different people. Twins may inherent the same natural inclinations towards certain things, but the right or wrong upbringing can either encourage or smother these tendencies. Think about how different you would have turned out if you were raised in a radically different way--what if your parents had belittled you instead of encouraged you; what if you'd grown up surrounded by gang violence instead of in a quaint country home? What if you'd been a spoiled single child, or what if you were passed around from foster home to foster home all your life? These things totally make a difference. The same natural inclinations in a set of twins can twisted in different directions if the hands raising them were wildly different enough. If one kid was reared by a politician who encouraged him to take charge and follow in his footsteps, while another was in a broken home beaten and abused, I'd say they'd probably be pretty different.