Historically speaking, different cultures have had fascinating views and practices regarding twins. In some instances twins are praised and seen as a blessing, while in others they have been despised and seen as a bad omen—sometimes leading twins in certain societies to be outright disposed of. Being a twin myself, non-twins hold beliefs that twins have special twin ‘powers’ such as telepathy and share one mind with the same ideas and interests. Bizarrely enough multiple people have asked my twin brother and myself to demonstrate that we could read one another’s minds by speaking the same word at the same time without any prior knowledge—with a 99% failing rate.
An anthropologist utilizing Practice Theory would look at how twins are seen and talked about in a culture vs. how that certain culture’s “established structures” view twins. For example, in the United States most institutions do not alienate or limit twins, as they’re a ‘group’ that is deserving of the same inalienable rights that every other person is given. However, employers or any non-twins could hold beliefs that associate twins with negative or unusual connotations that might restrict them from private establishments or ostracize them from the smallest of social groups. In addition, the Practice theorist could observe the ‘historic turn’ of the twin phenomenon, as the particular history of the culture is more pertinent than any universal theories regarding twins.
A Culture and Personality anthropologist could easily examine different cultures’ rationales and beliefs regarding twins to support his or her theory that culture, rather than biology, shapes a culture’s personality and beliefs towards a phenomenon. For instance, twins have attained a heroic status in the eyes of Italians, as the legendary founders of Rome were the twins Romulus and Remus. Whereas, in many other cultures that practiced some sort of kin-land inheritance system, twins would have to be killed so as not to cause future violence and strife for the family, village, or even kingdom if it was the royalty and elites who birthed twins. Even in our present place in history, “modern society,” such as the United States practice selective abortion, in which the parent or parents will choose to kill a twin inside of the womb. Twins are common in every culture that reproduces, so a Culture and Personality anthropologist could use the historical and modern beliefs of cultures pertaining to twins to show the variations in different cultures that do not hold a biological and universal personality regarding twins.