Separated at Birth

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Imagine seeing someone who looks exactly like you walking down the sidewalk opposite you. He/she looks so much alike that you are convinced he/she could be your twin. It turns out, he/she is. If there is one thing that will stand out for me from this semester, it will be some of the discussion we had on twin studies. twins2.jpg

The study I described is a psychological study that separates twins at birth and reunites them decades later. It is discussing the age old debate of Nature vs Nurture. Does our genetic makeup or the environment in which we are raised determine our personality and intelligence. According to this study, the Monozygotic twins, share 100% same genes, who were separated show some similarities through the separation and some dissimilarities. Lets take the story of Oskar and Jack regarding personality. They were raised in separate regions of the world and still ended up with similar personality scores on tests: intense, loyal, and politically engaged. However, they both supported groups who were polar opposites. Oskar supported the Nazi movement, Jack was helping to build the Jewish state of Israel. The fact that their personality traits were very similar shows that the genetics approach is at least partially true. Moving on to intelligence. When studies of separated Monozygotic Twins are examined, we find similarly that MZ twins have very similar scores on intelligence tests. The fact that these two groups both show a very similar personality and intelligence suggests again that genetics is a key part of the picture of human characteristic. However, if this was the case why would the twins not be perfectly aligned? There is still variablity within these studies proving that environment also has a role. We should all be aware of these interesting studies because, who knows, you could be walking down the street and could miss your twin on the other sidewalk. For more on twin studies and what Harvard is doing with them click here


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This is so interesting to think about, I do not know what I would do if I passed someone that looked almost identical to me and later found out that I was a part of a twin study. I find it very interesting about the two cases that were mentioned in the textbook about Jack and Oskar and the two fire fighter brothers that turned out to be incredibly similar in personality despite being reared in different environments.

I also found this study very interesting as I have a set of identical twins in my family. Growing up with my sisters it was hard for me to understand why everyone had such troubles differentiating between the two and being able to tell who was who. They were very much alike and I think it was deeper than just nurture because they had many things alike that i never shared with them even though we were all under the same household. This study bothered me because I can't understand how they separated twins at birth just to do a study on them and nature vs. nurture.

Interesting blog. I agree that this is one of the topics I won't forget soon, and have shared with friends. I found the intensity of Jack & Oskar's convictions in their causes very interesting when they were polar opposite to one another. I would like to read more on them-- can they discuss their differences and how do you reconcile that your twin is the "enemy" of your convictions? I also wonder how the researchers found twins that had been separated, and did not know it.

This is a very interesting topic. I found also found the twin study cases in our textbooks and classes very fascinating, especially the one that two brothers grow up in completely different families but still have similar personalities.

This blog is interesting, and I totally agree with it.
I believe in nature more than nurture. It is so true that genes have significant impacts on human's personality. However, as nurture also can affect one's personality, it is important to provide appropriate environment too.
I would not ignore the importance of nurture when I get children in the future.

This is a very intriguing topic; it is always interesting to perform Nature v. Nurture studies. In the case of Oskar and Jack their general personalities were very similar, which in itself is amazing. However, the way they applied their strengths and interests were polar opposites which would come from the Nurturing part. It is fascinating discovering just how much of our personalities are formed by both our nature and nurturing.

I too find twin studies very fascinating. However, when I read some of these studies, I feel sad for twins separated at birth. I know there can be a wide range of reasons why twins were separated. I also know that these situations are very useful for studying nature versus nurture. However, I believe that those people should be able to know each other and grow up together. I have a friend who has a twin brother. They are monozygotic twins, so they look alike. However, they were separated at birth and, as the result, were placed in foster homes of two different countries. They ended up growing up and living in two different countries. I don't know much details of their childhood, but one thing I know is that they somehow met when they were 25 years old. They reunited and now are living together in one country.
By personally knowing twins who were separated at birth, I strongly believe that, no matter what circumstances, those people should have a chance of knowing each other and growing up together.

Do you think we have a tendency to overestimate some of the similarities in twins because we expect them to be so similar?

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This page contains a single entry by mulle286 published on April 27, 2012 12:10 PM.

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