Twin Telepathy: Separating Fact From Fiction

Twin girls holding hands
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One of the magical mysteries associated with multiples is idea that they share a special connection beyond that of ordinary siblings. While the twin bond is a clearly unique relationship, sometimes people feel it's endowed with extraordinary, seemingly telepathic, qualities. 

Extrasensory perception, or ESP, in twins is assumed to be more common in monozygotic (identical) twins because they share a closer genetic connection. But dizygotic (fraternal) twins aren't excluded from feeling a special mental connection with their twin.

Telepathy
  • Telepathy is the process of assessing thoughts or feelings without help from sensory input like sight, sound, or touch.


ESP
  • In the paranormal world, ESP is an ability to acquire information without relying on physical senses or previous experience.

Anecdotal Evidence of ESP in Twins

Many twins do seem to share an inherent understanding of their co-twin's emotional state. While few studies are available to quantify or confirm this, twins often report experiences of enhanced emotional or physical connection, such as having a feeling of "something being wrong" when their twin is in crisis.

Sometimes, one twin experiences a physical sensation of something that's happening to their co-twin, such as emotional distress or a heart attack. In one case, a twin living in Italy experienced inexplicable abdominal pains at the same time as her sister was going into premature labor.

Many other twins report similar experiences, so there's plenty of anecdotal data to support the idea of some sort of twin telepathy. For example, twins may find that they perform similar actions when they're apart, such as buying the same item, ordering the same meal in a restaurant, or picking up the phone to call each other at the same time. They may appear to know the other's thoughts by speaking simultaneously or finishing each other's sentences.

It seems nearly every set of twins can relate a story. However, it should be noted that non-twin siblings or even close friends also report these experiences of synchronicity.

Research on Twin Telepathy

While some evidence exists of incidences that can be described as telepathic phenomena, there simply is not any conclusive, evidence-based proof at this point that twins have ESP or that twin telepathy exists. In her book Twin Mythconceptions, Dr. Nancy L. Segal, a preeminent twin researcher, says that anecdotes about twin telepathy are simply a reflection of the loving, caring bond between the two.

In cases where twins were raised separately but had similar clothes and tastes when they did meet, the similarities reflect the genetic component of personality and interests, Dr. Segal says. She does concede that if future studies ever show more concrete evidence of a special twin telepathy, she's willing to reexamine her conclusions.

Other Explanations for Twins' Connection

While many scientists may balk at the idea of a "magical" twin connection, some researchers have come up with other more evidence-based ways of thinking about this phenomenon. Rather than calling it telepathy, some experts explain these occurrences as "mirroring" or "modeling."

Similar to Dr. Segal's rationale that genetic influences play a big part in creating these so-called telepathy moments, this thinking says that close individuals may unconsciously pick up on multiple cues from their twin—often replicating them. These cues allow them greater insights into what the other person is experiencing or feeling.

Telepathy or Empathy?

Despite the lack of scientific proof, these individual personal experiences can't be denied. They do happen, whether by coincidence or paranormal phenomenon. It's generally accepted that such incidents are signs of a deep emotional connection that produces an intense sense of empathy, strong enough to generate physical sensations, such as feeling pain when a co-twin is hurting.

Twins also may know each other so intimately that they can predict how their twin will speak or behave. As noted above, this phenomenon may also be observed between non-twins in a close relationship, such as a husband and wife who have been married for many years.

A Word From Verywell

Many twins, whether due to nature or nurture, may simply have the same instincts, tendencies, or preferences, explaining why they may do eerily similar things simultaneously. Ultimately, regardless of whether it's described as telepathy, twins often share a special sibling bond that makes them especially close.

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4 Sources
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