Humans are not a pack of wolves and so our social hierarchy is not quite as distinct as alpha, beta, omega. There are certainly degrees of where men fall on the hierarchy scale and what determines who is in charge. In the past, during the hunter and gatherer days, this may have been determined by physical strength. In our modern world, power is often determined by socioeconomic status. In this sense, it is not enough to be aggressive and physically superior, one must posses a certain level of intelligence/education to persevere. However, men’s status still seems to be very much affected by Testosterone levels. So it seems, the modern alpha male needs to have a combination of these factors to be considered as such.
Inherent Qualities of an ALPHA MALE
high testosterone levels- linked to competitiveness and dominance in men; the need to influence and control; aggressive tendencies; the ability to dominate social situations
Education and Socioeconomic status: this will determine what the outlet will be for the high testosterone. High testosterone males tend to hold dominant social positions in prisons and mental institutions, but culture can make the difference between them leading a gang or an organization.
perseverance coupled with a me first attitude – An alpha male will not shy away from dangerous conflict, but only because he believes he can win. If the win is not possible, the alpha male is first and foremost a survivor. He does not indulge in self sacrifice or martyrdom. The ultimate goal is to dominate, as well as pass on his genes.
Below are fictional alpha males from my favorite shows, past and present. They are characterized by their professional success, social dominance, pragmatic intelligence, and aversion to monogamy.
The protagonist Don Draper (played by John Hamm), in the AMC series MAD MEN set in early 1960′s New York City, is a brilliant ad man who commands respect from men and maintains affairs in spite of his picture perfect family life.
Bill Henrickson (played buy Bill Paxton), in HBO’s BIG LOVE, is a Mormon polygamist who juggles three wifes, seven children, a home improvement store, creepy in-laws, and a gambling business.
Brian Kinney (played by Gale Harold) on Queer as Folk is the epitome of sex appeal for men and women alike on this Showtime series. He is another brilliant ad executive; Brian is confident, promiscuous, and a self made millionaire.
references for articles detailing the links between testosterone and behavior:
…leads us to the Neuron.
A friend of mine recently heard the Dalai Llama give a speech in Barcelona, Spain. Mr. Llama emphasized that the way to achieve happiness and inner tranquility is through love and compassion. I have written about love before, particularly the sort of love that the Dalai Llama would very much approve of: the kind of love which focuses on giving; it is a love that is composed of knowledge, respect, care, and effort. I mentioned that I would touch upon care and effort at some point and I think it is important to note that care and effort combine to form passion, whereas knowledge and respect combine to form friendship.
care + effort = passion
Without genuine care, our hard effort becomes more of a chore. Have you ever had a dead-end job that you worked very hard at, yet it never gave you any sort of fulfillment? Without effort, care is simply the attention we give to an object/subject. We can have affection for it, an interest in it, but without effort there is no energy exerted and nothing sacrificed.
knowledge + respect = friendship
For the purposes of discussing the search for happiness, I’d like to focus on compassion as an integral part of contentment. Compassion is simply empathy that is coupled with the desire to help the other.
empathy + effort = compassion
This makes a lot of sense when we look at our previous equation of care and affort. When we have empathy for someone, we care about them in addition to identifying with them in a vicarious way. We feel what they feel. Since empathy encompasses care, then we can agree that compassion encompasses passion. In addition, I do not believe you need to identify with someone in order to CARE about them. This would explain how psychopaths can love just like the rest of us, although how they express this love can be somewhat different and may lack the understanding of the object’s needs.
Empathy, like love, is a product of evolution. These are both necessary aspects of our survival. Love is essential in the sense that it secures reproduction and the raising of a dependent young. Empathy is essential for many reasons. It occurs through the action of mirror neurons which are capable of initiating a response in us by firing away from mere observation of an event. For example, watching a person scratching their head, we actually initiate a similar scratching of the head response in our minds (as if we were doing it). In this way we are able to anticipate another’s actions, as well as sympathize with their pain. Both skills are important for basic survival, as well as for social success. Appropriately, these mirror cells gained the nickname of “The Dalai Llama neurons”.
It is important to note that neither passion nor compassion can occur without the addition of EFFORT.
Effort occurs anytime we exert our physical or mental energy and it seems to be the common thread in the two equations. I am a firm believer that happiness cannot be achieved without diligent effort and that hard work always pays off. All the technicalities aside, I strongly agree that directing our efforts toward others through care and empathy will lead to a certain fulfillment. I don’t think this is the only way to be fulfilled, though. Directing our efforts and care towards an idea can be very fulfilling, as well. For instance, having passion for what you do can be very exciting and brings much satisfaction to men in particular. However, I do believe that ultimate happiness lies in the personal exchange of love.