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New Social Media Apps let you find your doppelganger

Niamh Geaney and Karen Branigan: Image - Twin Strangers Project

Niamh Geaney and Karen Branigan: Image – Twin Strangers Project

A website that uses facial recognition software could help you find your doppelganger.

A doppelganger means ‘double walker’, as in a ghost or double of you. It is used to describe someone who looks exactly like you but is a stranger and not related in any way.

Last week, Niamh Geaney caused a stir when she posted pictures and videos of her and her doppelganger, Karen Branigan, after appeals on Twitter and Facebook.

The 26-year-old Irish TV journalist made global news, and caused celebrities to wade in with comments, such as ‘Wow, wow, wow’ from Zooey Deschanel.

Image - Niamh Geaney Twitter

Image – Niamh Geaney Twitter

Strangely enough, Niamh found out that her doppelganger only lives about an hour away from her.

There are sites that offer to find your very own doppelganger. One such site is I Look Like You, which after Niamh’s story hit the headlines, crashed last week from the increased traffic.  There are also apps that work by comparing your facial image with their database.

Image - Twin Strangers Project

Image – Twin Strangers Project

Find My Double (FMD) uses this method, and when they are successful they will send you a message saying ‘You’ve been doppelganged’.

Simon Mayeri is marketing expert who led the launch of the FMD app, and reckons he knows the reason why in particular older people, are becoming more obsessed with doppelgangers:

“I think it’s linked to the whole obsession with investigating family trees,” he says. “People like to imagine that they might have a double abroad, in the US or Australia.”

John Jemison ( left) and Neil Richardson (right)

John Jemison ( left) and Neil Richardson (right)

For those who prefer to search in private, there is another technique that allows you to look on Google. Called the ‘reverse image search, you simply upload your photograph to a Google Images Search, and then using the search tool on the right, click on the drop down box that appears under Images and click on search for something ‘visually similar’.

I must say, this system is not fool proof, when I did a search my results showed a mannequin head and a man. But why are we so obsessed with finding our doppelgangers?

Professor Amima Memon, psychologist at Royal Holloway University of London has a theory:

“It may seem bizarre that people become obsessed with finding strangers who look exactly like them, but there may be an evolutionary principle to it. Research shows that in terms of facial recognition, we like people who look like us, and some studies have shown that married couples often have similar facial features.”

Lauren and Sophie: Image - Twin Strangers Project

Lauren and Sophie: Image – Twin Strangers Project

I think there might be some truth in this. A few couples I knew well look remarkably like each other, so much so that you would think they are related in some way.

And there is more evidence to suggest that we prefer people who look like us, even when it comes down to trust issues.

A study carried out at the Face Research Lab in Glasgow, asked participants to rate photographs of people as trustworthy or untrustworthy. These photos were then digitally altered to resemble the participant’s own face. The results showed the more the person’s own face was morphed into the original image, the more trustworthy they were rated.

Professor Memon suggest that this could be the reason why we take so many selfies:

“We assume that people who take selfies and look at pictures of themselves are merely extrovert. But looking at pictures of yourself, or someone who looks very like you, may boost confidence and address concerns about one’s own mortality, that you are the only one out there.”

Source: The Telegraph

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