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Do Twins Read Each Other’s Minds?
When it comes to identical twins, the most controversial and contentious topic of all has to be extrasensory perception. Most journalists who interview me tend to raise this question because they know it is on the minds of many of their readers. My review of research in this area demonstrates that this behavior does not exist between twins or anyone else. Of course, many identical twins do show “ESP-like” behaviors, such as independently choosing the same outfit, answering test questions exactly the same way and even finishing each other’s sentences. However, I believe there are better ways to explain identical twins’ similar choices and social connections. It has to do with their identical genes which predispose them to like the same people, places and events.
A related topic is cheating, that is, whether identical twins who perform alike are necessarily guilty of dishonest behavior. I have witnessed the shame, disappointment and anger of twins and their families when twins are wrongly accused of cheating. I have even assisted attorneys who are sometimes called in to defend twins against school administrators and university officials. Identical twins are highly matched in their abilities, so it makes sense that they would answer questions in the same way, or even draft essays along very similar lines. I do advise twins who go to school together to always sit apart for exams so they can never be accused of cheating.
A second debate concerns whether or not twins, on average, are below non-twins in intelligence, and whether they are underrepresented among elite performers. Recent work dispels the myth that twins generally score below non-twins on ability tests. I also believe that twins seem to be underrepresented at elite levels of performance, partly because people doing these surveys do not realize who is, and who is not, a twin!
I address the frequently asked question, “Do twins read each other’s minds?” in Chapter 7 of my new book Twin Mythconceptions. In this chapter, “Mind-Readers? Twin Telepathy, Intelligence and Elite Performance” I also address the nature of twins’ intelligence and how often twins are found at elite levels of performance across different fields. I’m pleased to offer you a download of this chapter here.
If you liked this article and the chapter, you can access additional chapters from the book Twin Mythconceptions online via ScienceDirect.
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.
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