The concept of doppelgangers has been around for a very long time, with people having similar appearances without having any blood relation to each other. While the concept is not new, researchers have more recently started studying people who look alike without the familial connection. They have found that in many cases there is similar DNA (though not identical like twins). It often means that the doppelgangers end up with similar weights, lifestyles, and behaviors, indicating how genetics may play a role in behavior as much as appearance.
Research was recently conducted in Spain, and the results were released in Cell Reports in August of 2022. One of the researchers, Dr. Manuel Esteller had previously studied twins, but this was a new way of examining genetics and its effect on people’s lives. He started with the art project by Francois Brunelle I’m Not a Look-Alike! and was able to get 32 pairs of people from that art show to join in his study. Researchers then ran DNA tests and conducted questionnaires to learn more about participants. Based on facial recognition software, 16 of the pairs were similar enough to be mistaken for identical twins; the other half were similar to the human eye, but not similar enough to the software. Those who were identified as possibly being twins were also more genetically similar. In other words, there are only so many genetic variations, and that means that some people are going to look more similar because there are only so many possible variations. With there being over 7 billion people in the world and with the Internet, it is just more likely to find doppelgangers now than at any other point in history.
When the researchers drilled down to look at more details, there are still plenty of aspects that are very different. Of course, the study is based on a very small sample size because it is still difficult to find and bring together everyone with very similar appearances. They plan to continue researching this phenomenon as it could provide more information about some genetic conditions. Since genetics determine a person’s facial structure, and that makeup can be closely copied in someone with no direct familial connection, it could provide a new understanding of genetic conditions.
On a more practical and current level, it does show that facial recognition software is not infallible because it cannot distinguish between people who are not related based on similar facial structures. Some of the images show people who are clearly not the same person based on things like height, yet facial recognition would miss these obvious differences. This means that facial recognition is not nearly so secure as people currently consider it to be. The risks of facial recognition misidentifying someone, resulting in that person being arrested is obviously a significant concern. However, it also highlights that agencies that rely on facial recognition to protect facilities are not as secure either.
To read some of the tales of people with doppelgangers, you can check out the full article at You Have a Doppelganger and Probably Share DNA with Them, New Study Suggests.
*O’Connell and Associates provides this article for informational purposes only.