Twin Research


Peer Reports of Adaptive Behavior in Twins and Singletons: Is Twinship a Risk or an Advantage?

Lea Pulkkinena1 c1, Inka Vaalamoa2, Risto Hietalaa3, Jaakko Kaprioa4 and Richard J. Rosea5

a1 Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.

a2 Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.

a3 Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.

a4 Department of Public Health, University of Helsinki & National Public Health Institute, Helsinki, Finland.

a5 Department of Psychology, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana, USA.


We compared twins to their gender-matched singleton classmates in peer-assessed behavioral adjustment. Our samples include 1874 11- to 12-year-old Finnish twins (687 monozygotic, MZ; 610 same-sex dizygotic, SSDZ; 577 opposite-sex dizygotic, OSDZ) and their 23,200 non-twin classmates. Data were collected using a 30-item Multidimensional Peer Nomination Inventory containing three factors and their subscales. We found twin-singleton differences: classmates rated twin girls and boys higher than gender-matched singletons in Adaptive Behaviors (constructive, compliant, and socially active behavior), and those effects were particularly evident among OSDZ twins for assessments of social interaction, popularity, and leadership. We found no evidence that individual twins differ from singletons in Externalizing (hyperactivity- impulsivity, inattention, aggression) or Internalizing Problem Behaviors (depressive symptoms, social anxiety). Nor did we find systematic differences between MZ and SSDZ twins. Among both twins and singletons, boys exceeded girls in Externalizing, and girls exceeded boys in Internalizing Problem Behaviors. Results suggest that a twinship forms a positive developmental environment for socioemotional behavior, particularly among OSDZ twins.


c1 Address for correspondence: Lea Pulkkinen, Department of Psychology, University of Jyväskylä, P. O. Box 35 (Agora), 40351 Jyväskylä, Finland.