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An Author’s Top Books About Twins

By: , Posted on: April 28, 2017

twin mythconceptions

There are many books on twins out there, written from different perspectives and with different goals in mind.  I have read many of them. But there are a number of classic works in the field that I always come back to when I am searching for a certain topic, looking for a particular finding, or in need of a bit of wisdom. I find the older, historical research books especially satisfying because many of the fascinating life history details of individual twin pairs are provided. In years, we have become very sensitive to confidentiality, something I support—but twins are unique people who enjoy contributing to the research process. Always with their consent, I have been able to describe a large number of informative circumstances that would otherwise be lost. Researchers can always use this information to formulate hypotheses for testing with large groups of twins.

There are 10 books (“my top ten”) I consider to be classics in the twin research field and I list them all in my new book Twin Mythconceptions. I will only mention a few of them here and say why I so enjoy them.

I love Amram Scheinfeld’s 1967 work Twins and Supertwins. It includes twin-related events and stories that I have never seen or rarely seen elsewhere. One concerns the switched-at-birth identical twins in Switzerland that I describe in one of the chapters. There is also a very helpful timeline of twin developments that really puts the field in historical perspective. I met Scheinfeld and his wife many years ago and it was a most delightful time. I treasure my signed copy of his book.

I also enjoy Martin Bulmer’s book, The Biology of Twinning in Man, and refer to it often. Even though it was written in 1970 it remains one of the best sources on population differences in twinning rates, differences among identical and fraternal twin placentas, and the mechanics of polar body twinning—all of which I cover in the book. Of course, it now needs some updating, but it is still useful in so many ways.

Finally, I must mention the first volume on twins raised apart by Horatio Newman, Frank Freeman and Karl Holzinger, from the University of Chicago, titled Twins: A Study of Heredity and Environment. The book is packed with quantitative findings, beautifully complemented by each pairs’ life story and intriguing photographs. The excitement that the authors experienced as they went about their project is infectious. Two classic works on other reared-apart twin studies followed, one in 1962 (England) and one with an update in 1965/1980 (Denmark). This work certainly inspired me. I went on to be a post-doctoral fellow and research associate with the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart, a 20-year project that examined 137 reared-apart twins, 81 identical and 56 fraternal. I published the complete findings on the Minnesota study in 2012, in a volume titled, Born Together-Reared Apart: The Landmark Minnesota Twin Study. I encourage interested readers to wander through a library and pull these books off the shelf and taker a close look.

If you’d like to see the entire list, you can download complementary Appendix 4, “My Top Ten: Classic Books on Twins” from my book Twin Mythconceptions.

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If you liked this article and the chapter, you can access additional chapters from the book Twin Mythconceptions online via ScienceDirect.

twin mythconceptions

If you prefer to purchase a print or e-copy of the book, visit the Elsevier website. Apply discount code STC317 to save up to 30% off the list price and free global shipping.

Nancy L. Segal received a B.A. in psychology and literature from Boston University (1973), and an M.A. (1974) and Ph.D. (1982) in the Social Sciences and Behavioral Sciences from the University of Chicago. From 1982-1991 she was a post-doctoral fellow and research associate at the University of Minnesota, affiliated with the well-known Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart. She is currently Professor of Psychology at CSU Fullerton and Director of the Twin Studies Center, which she founded in 1991. Dr. Segal has authored over 200 scientific articles and book chapters, as well as several books on twins.

You can also read Dr. Segal’s other articles on twins below, and access her interview on “CBS Morning Show” about twin sisters separated at birth.

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