Three Identical Strangers





Three Identical Strangers

The 2018 film ‘Three Identical Strangers’ is a critically acclaimed film that follows the lives of triplet boys born in the United States in 1961. The boys were born to a single mother as quadruplets, but one of them died at birth. At six months, the boys were placed for adoption to different families. They then led their separate lives unaware of each other’s existence until they became aware by chance when they were nineteen years old. They were separated as part of a scientific study mostly on the nature vs. nurture argument.

The main question in the film is the question of nature vs. nature as regards child psychology. This is a particularly exciting theory as there are many differing opinions on whether human behavior is determined by the environment of upbringing or is a result of genetic disposition. The nurture side of the debate asserts that human behavior is exclusively determined by the surroundings in which one grows up. A human being is a clean slate which is then filled by what they experience in their environment. Nature, on the other hand, explains that genetics play the most significant role in the development of human beings. Some parts of the debate combine the two arguments and asset that human behavior is a result of both genetics and the surroundings.

The film sought to explore these two sides by placing the boys who had identical genetic makeup in different environments to study whether they would behave similarly or differently. They were deliberately put in families of different economic backgrounds to ensure that their upbringing would be entirely different. Later in life, the boys were found to have common interests and similar mannerisms even though they had grown up differently. This is intriguing since the research on nature vs. nurture has been going on for a long time and putting it to rest would put many minds at ease.

Another question that comes to mind about psychology when watching the film is the ethical standards when it comes to researching human subjects, especially children in this case. The children had no choice in taking part in the research as they were too young. Their parent had the right to consent, but perhaps she did not consider the full ramifications that separation would have on the boys. This is evident in the fact that they suffered from mental illness that led to one of them committing suicide in the end. The question of ethics in research is one that has been in question. On the one hand, research, especially in humans, leads to great strides in different areas of life. On the other hand, the welfare of the human subjects has to be taken into consideration. Hence this is a debate that elicits strong reactions both ways and makes the film all the more eye-opening.

The change vs. stability question in psychology also arises in the film ‘Three Identical Strangers’. Stability entails those traits a person possesses at infancy stays with them until they reach adulthood. Change, on the other hand, explains that these traits tend to change as a person interacts with others as they grow up. The film, in this case, can be said to lean more towards the stability theory, the boys were found to possess many similar characteristics when they reconnected in adulthood.

The film is no doubt quite educative and eye-opening with regards to child developmental psychology. Watching the movie calls to mind many questions such as ethics in research and proves to be quite enlightening.