En-Twinned Lives: Twins Experts Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. and Nancy L. Segal of the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart Re-Unite to Discuss Behavior Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology

By Miele, Frank | Skeptic (Altadena, CA), Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

En-Twinned Lives: Twins Experts Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr. and Nancy L. Segal of the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart Re-Unite to Discuss Behavior Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology


Miele, Frank, Skeptic (Altadena, CA)


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THOMAS J. BOUCHARD, JR., is Professor of Psychology at the University of Minnesota and Director of the Minnesota Center for Twin and Adoption Research. He is best known for initiating and carrying out the Minnesota Study of Twins Reared Apart (MISTRA), which revealed the remarkable similarity in the behavior of identical (technically best termed monozygotic) twins who had been separated very early in life. This detailed study, which included physical, medical, and psychological measurements of a large number of such cases, established the importance of genetic factors in just about every aspect of human behavior.

The remarkable similarity of one pair of monozygotic twins reared apart, called the "Jim twins," captured worldwide media attention and led to the identification and study of many more cases. As described by Bouchard's colleague and co-interviewee Nancy Segal, in her book Entwined Lives, each Jim had a dog named "Toy," had been married twice--first to wives named "Linda" and then to second wives named "Betty," one named his son "James Allan," the other "James Alan," Both "Jims" drove a light-blue Chevrolet to Pas Grille beach in Florida for family vacations, smoked Salem cigarettes and drank Miller Lite beer, served as part-time sheriffs, bit their fingernails, suffered from migraine headaches, and left love notes to the wife around the house.

Professor Bouchard has conducted extensive research in human behavior genetics, as well as evolutionary psychology.

Recently published papers include: Koenig, L. B., & Bouchard, T. J., Jr. 2006. "Genetic and Environmental Influences on the Traditional Moral Values Triad--Authoritarianism, Conservatism and Religiousness--as Assessed by Quantitative Behavior Genetic Methods." In McNamara, P. (Eds.) Where God and Science Meet: How Brain and Evolutionary Studies Alter Our Understanding of Religion. Volume I: The Evolutionary Psychology of Religion: How Evolution Shaped the Religious Brain. Westport, CT: Praeger.

A publication currently in press is Bouchard, T. J., Jr., "Genes and Human Psychological Traits." In P. Carters, S. Lawrence & S. Stitch (Eds.), The innate mind: Foundations for the future (Vol. 3). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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NANCY L. SEGAL was one of Bouchard's most important collaborators on the MISTRA project. Now Professor of Psychology and Director of the Twin Studies Center, at California State University, Fullerton, she was named Distinguished Professor in the Humanities and Social Sciences and Outstanding Professor of the Year (2004-5). Dr. Segal also received the 2005 James Shields Award for Lifetime Contributions to Twin Research from the Behavior Genetics Association and International Society for Twin Studies, the 2008 Social Responsibility Award from the Western Psychological Association, and the 2006 International Making a Difference Award (Multiple Births Canada).

Dr. Segal is the author of Indivisible by Two: Lives of Extraordinary Twins (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005/2007) and Entwined Lives: Twins and What They Tell Us About Human Behavior (NY: Dutton, 1999, NY: Plume 2000), and senior editor of Uniting Psychology and Biology: Integrative Perspectives on Human Development (Washington, DC: APA Press, 1997). She received a 2003-2004 American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women and is an Associate Editor of Twin Research and Human Genetics, the official journal of the International Society for Twin Studies. One of the most interesting pairs of separated identical twins Dr. Segal has studied and described are Oskar, who grew up Catholic in Nazi Germany, and Jack, who grew up Jewish in Trinidad.

Dr. Segal has appeared on Good Morning America, 20/20, the Oprah Winfrey Show and Discovery Health.

SKEPTIC REUNITED THESE "MINNESOTA Twins" to explain how twin and adoption research changed the face of psychology and explain the growing influence of human behavior genetics on evolutionary psychology, economics, and political science. …

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