Do You Have a Look-alike? Find Your Doppelgänger

November 20, 2019  - by 

Have you ever scrolled through those celebrity look-alike articles and wondered, “Who out there looks just like me?” Or maybe you’ve done a double-take when you did see someone who looked just like you—and you wondered, how could that be possible?

We often call these “look-alikes” doppelgängers, a German term that means “double-walker.” In old German folklore, living creatures were believed to have a spirit double—something distinct from ghosts, but still supernatural—that were sometimes seen as spiritual opposites or “evil twins” to the living individual. However, today “doppelgänger” is a generic term we use for the (most likely) harmless look-alikes we stumble across in everyday life.

Do You Have a Doppelgänger?

How likely is it that you actually have a doppelgänger? According to one study, the likelihood of two people sharing the exact facial features is less than 1 in 1 trillion. Put another way, there is only a one in 135 chance that a single pair of doppelgängers exists on our planet of more than 7 billion people.

However, these odds apply only if we are being exact about the measurements of a person’s facial features. The thing is, our brains don’t work like algorithmic facial recognition software; we don’t look at someone’s facial features in isolation from one another. Instead, our minds recognize people’s faces as a “sum of parts”—that is, we take in the whole face at once and don’t get caught up in millimeter measurements of someone’s ears or nose.

Two doppelganger boys play together

With that in mind, we can look at two people with the same hair and eye color, similar face shape and smile, and consider them doppelgängers because they look mostly alike. You’re far more likely to find this kind a pseudo-doppelgänger in your life than you are an exact replica.

An Easy Way to Find Your Doppelgänger

Compare-a-face screenshot

You probably have someone out there who looks eerily similar to you, and that person is probably closer than you think! In fact, because of your shared genetics, you are more likely to look like distant cousins and ancestors than a total stranger. The question then is, who do you look most like?

There’s a way to find out quickly! If you’ve ever wondered if you look more like Mom or Great-grandpa,  FamilySearch’s Compare-a-Face can tell you. Using facial recognition software, you can upload a photo of yourself and compare it to family members, including great-great grandparents and distant relatives. This activity can help you find your doppelgänger in just a couple clicks!

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to FamilySearch’s Discovery page, and click Compare-a-Face. You’ll be prompted to sign in to your FamilySearch account. If you don’t have an account, you can make one here.
  2. Upload or take a photo of yourself that you want to use to compare faces.
  3. If you don’t have photos of your family uploaded, the next page will prompt you to either upload a file or take a photo to compare your face to. Or, if you have photos already uploaded to your Family Tree, you will be taken to a page that shows a list of relatives and a percentage of how similar you look to them. Click through these images to see who your family doppelgängers are!

If you haven’t uploaded your family’s photos to Memories or your family tree, FamilySearch will not have photos to compare your face to. If you just made an account or you need to upload more information, start by adding the first four generations to your tree. Sometimes, once you have linked up to a deceased relative, your tree will automatically have information that other people have added about your family, including images. You can also quickly and easily upload photos of your ancestors.

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Comments

  1. I would suggest that anyone submitting a photo looks closely at the terms before providing their image. I’m a photographer and will not sign away my rights to this degree. While fun, it’s a bit extreme.

  2. We live in the San Francisco Bay area, and more than once I have been in a grocery store check out line, and had a person in the area. Call out, “are you Robin Williams”. For fun, I emailed him and asked if when in a grocery store had he ever had anyone call out “are you Orrin Jorgensen”.