Don’t freak out, but you may have a lookalike who shares your DNA
A new study found that similarities between doppelgängers are more than skin-deep.
Not to freak you out, but according to science, some of us have a living doppelgänger walking the earth right now. And if you’re lucky enough to run into yours in this lifetime, you might actually get along with them pretty well: A new study found that we share genes and even personalities with those who look exactly like us.
For the study, which was published this week in the journal Cell Reports, researchers recruited 32 pairs of doppelgängers who weren’t related to each other from an ongoing photo project by Canadian artist François Brunelle, who has been searching for and photographing doppelgängers since 1999. The scientists then used AI to determine how much the participants resembled each other, gave the pairs DNA tests, and interviewed them about their lifestyles.
Out of the 32 pairings, 16 of them shared as many facial similarities as identical twins, making them “true” doppelgängers, per The New York Times. Those 16 doppelgängers shared many more genes with each other than the participants who weren’t full doppelgängers — suggesting that DNA is a strong determinant of what we end up looking like, even more so than environmental factors, the Times reported. Given that, as studies have shown, our temperament is influenced by our genes, it also makes sense that people who look exactly alike would have more similar personalities.
Of course, there are dangers to linking people’s appearance with their personalities (racism has entered the chat). The Times pointed out that in the forensic world, law enforcement could use DNA to reconstruct an image of what a suspect may look like, which could be disastrous for people of color. Many minorities know the feeling of being mistaken for another person of their race, even if that person looks nothing like them; and facial recognition tools currently used by law enforcement are already problematic. If we start using imperfectly reconstructed faces from DNA to identify crime suspects, I wonder the extent to which cases of mistaken identity — which already disproportionately affect people of color — would become more common.
On a more positive note, knowing that we share genes with doppelgängers could help doctors predict what types of health problems we might experience further down the line, by studying the ailments of people who look like us, per the Times. I don’t know about you, but this study makes me want to go out into the world and search for my doppelgänger, so we can go to the doctor together, exchange dating notes, and share friends. Wherever you are, I just know we’re about to be besties.