Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
February 2, 2024 ·  4 min read

You have a doppelganger and probably share DNA with them, new study suggests

Have you always wished you had a twin? Well, according to research, you might have one… well, sort of. New research suggests that it is highly likely that most of us have a doppelganger. On top of that, their research says that it is also likely that you do actually share some genetic similarities – yes, DNA – with that person. This is despite the fact that you are not actually related to them at all.

You Probably Have A Doppelganger – And You Probably Share Some DNA With Them

Doppelgangers are something that has always fascinated people. After all, it’s like having a twin that you’re not related to, which is pretty interesting, indeed. A group of scientists in Spain decided to study doppelgangers, and they found some pretty interesting results. The first of these is that you very likely have a doppelganger somewhere in the world. The second is that likely, the two of you actually do share some DNA, despite not actually being related. This is their theory as to how and why. (1)

Nature vs. Nurture

Thanks to the internet, people are discovering more and more frequently someone, somewhere in the world who looks shockingly similar to them. The Spanish research team wanted to look at nature versus nurture in the context of people who look alike but are not related. They used the photos of Canadian photographer François Brunelle, who has been photographing doppelgangers since 1999. The researchers put 32 pairs’ photos through facial recognition software and also had them fill out a highly comprehensive biometric and lifestyle questionnaire. They also completed saliva DNA tests for each participant.

Of the 32 pairs, 16 of them actually shared some DNA. That, however, didn’t seem to be the only influence in their incredible capacity to look so similar. These pairs also had similar lifestyle factors and body weights. The researchers also noted that they shared similar behavior traits, such as smoking and level of education.

So what does this all mean? Is “nurture” – the lifestyle factors that we live in and environments that we grow up in – what makes us who we are and also appear similar to our doppelgangers? Or, is it DNA that influences our behaviors as well as our appearance? The research team is inclined to think that it is the latter.

“We were able to see that these look alike humans, in fact, they are sharing several genetic variants. And these are very common among them,” said Dr. Manel Esteller who worked on this project.“So they share these genetic variants that are related in a way that they have the shape of the nose, the eye, the mouth, the lips, and even the bone structure. And this was the main conclusion that genetics puts them together.” (2)

There’s Bacteria Involved

The scientists next focused more closely on the doppelgangers who looked the most alike. It was there that they noticed something even more interesting. They studied the microbiomes of these people. This refers to the viruses, fungi, and bacteria that live in the human body. These, they found, were actually quite different. In the study they wrote:

“As a geneticist, I firmly believe in the nature and the genetic material being very important to almost everything, but that does not take away from saying nurture is just as important,” said Dr. Karen Gripp, who’s research the scientists referenced in their study. “For every person to be successful in the world there are so many contributing factors and the environment is so important that I don’t think it’s one or the other.”

Implications For Facial Recognition 

The scientists readily admit that their study has some limitations. First of all, the sample size was quite small – just 32 pairs of doppelgangers. They are not able to say decisively if these results would follow through with a larger sample group. The study also focused primarily on people of European descent. They are not sure if the results would be the same if more people from other backgrounds were included.

“These results not only provide insights about the genetics that determine our face but also might have implications for the establishment of other human anthropometric properties and even personality characteristics,” 

Finally, the researchers noted that this poses a problem as the world uses facial recognition technology more and more. For example, the 16 pairs that actually shared some DNA were also confused by the facial recognition software. The computer thought that they were the same person. This is problematic, particularly in places like airports, cybersecurity, and federal investigations. It is something that authorities will have to keep in mind when making arrests, accusations, and the like.


  1. Look-alike humans identified by facial recognition algorithms show genetic similarities.” Cell. Ricky S. Joshi, et. al.
  2. You have a doppelganger and probably share DNA with them, new study suggests.” CNN. Jen Christensen. August 25, 2022.