Stereotypes of Twins

Picture by André Souren : "Doppelgaenger". Some rights reserved. Source:


The stereotypes that I will mention here, are more linked to identical twins, since they share more similarities in outer appearances and character traits. Stereotypical associations are evolving, because of these similarities between identical twins or because some characteristics were simply generalized by the public due to some specific occurrences in some twins. However, not all of these stereotypes are untrue; some of the characteristics are rather exaggerated:

The main prejudice for identical twins is that they are exactly alike in their looks, which of course is not entirely true. Most of the characteristics of the outer appearance are evidently the same, but it differs in some minor attributes; "some twins have spots, birth marks that the others do not have, minor facial variation (longer ear, chubbier face), differences in bodily strength and health, etc." (Burlingham 85). People do not only think that identical twins look the same but also have the same character traits. This is not true at all; there might be some character traits that are quite similar, but twins have dissimilar personalities and are also coined by their environment. Features that can be quite comparable are e.g.: the way identical twins laugh, talk, gesticulate, and walk or they can have a similar mimic.

Another stereotype is that twins are mostly left-handed and tend to stutter, which is supposed to be linked with each other. Koch found out that male twins tend to "exhibit a left preference more frequently than female twins in preschool years" (Koch 86) and that there is indeed some sort of connection between sinistrality and stuttering in twins before the age of 7.

Furthermore, one of the twins is supposed to be more dominant than the other one. This is something that really happens to most of the twins. Burlingham noticed that "many of the differentiations that emerged in the first two or three years seemed to follow the division between the pairs of twins into one active and one passive partner " (Burlingham 85).

The last prejudice, that I would like to mention here, is that twins never fight and are their best friends. This is only partly true; first of all it depends on how close the members of the twin groups are; identical twins tend to be closest to each other and so also "play more frequently together, sharing friends and possessions more with less friction than singletons and sibs" (Koch 120). However, twins also have a potential to have more rivalry between each other, which causes as much or even more fights than between siblings.


Scroll to the top