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Self-Development Knowledge Base

alpha male

Main topic:
1. the dominant male animal in a particular group.
2. among humans, a man tending to assume a dominant or domineering role in social or professional situations.

In popular human sociology, the term "alpha male" is often used to describe a set of social behaviors that men should pursue (modeled after chimpanzees, lions, and other mammal studies), to win maximum favor from their social group.

Human "Alpha male" Behavior

Among human men, alpha male behavior can be described as a combination of body language, presence, and social behavior which include;

Self-confidence, self-control, self-awareness, and independence;

  • A sense of identity, self-confidence, and self-respect.
  • Self-control, especially emotional self-control
  • Purposeful
  • Decisive - makes decisions
  • Persistent
  • Strong work ethic and drive to succeed; a strong desire to produce, earn, and excel. 
  • Hard worker. Does not shy away from challenge.
  • However, not driven. Doesn't let any one thing rule his life.
  • Strong desire to shape his environment rather than be shaped by it. 

Body language;

  • Confident body language & posture
  • Good eye contact
  • Friendly smile
  • Good posture
  • Presence


  • Courage - the ability to accept and face fear
  • Honest & open - says what's on his mind, despite possible backlash from the group

Aware of, and responsive to, the needs of the group.

  • Protective, particularly of those who cannot protect themselves.
  • Empathetic - responds to the needs of distressed individuals
  • Extremely generous - shares food, friendly to babies, curry favor of the social group
  • Respectful of others - treats women well, and treats other men well.


  • Unafraid of failure.
  • Acknowledges his weaknesses
  • Socially skilled, e.g. engaging, or humorous
  • Resilient, in all aspects. This includes social jests, jibes, and outright confrontations from other members of the group. When teased, a successful alpha will not become defensive. Instead, he can brush it off and will usually laugh at himself.

Self-sufficient & non-needy;

  • Not afraid to say "no"
  • Humility. He's reasonably grounded, and aware of his mortality, and appreciates the fact that his status as alpha will likely not last forever.
  • Not a people pleaser. No neediness, or clinginess.
  • not being afraid of confrontations such as arguments 

Strong or powerful;

  • Often strong or powerful in some way, whether it's based on physical aspects, skills, personality, presence, or some other perceptable aspect.
  • Can protect himself (rarely senselessly endangering oneself) 
  • Often, can and will protect others as well
  • Often learned or educated.
  • Can be stubborn.


  • Un-afraid of confrontations such as arguments 
  • Not a pushover


Generally liked & respected;

  • Leads others, by example
  • High social intelligence 
  • Refrains from jealousy, passive aggressive behavior
  • A man's man. Other males like him as well.

A good communicator;

  • Influences others, rather than manipulates.
  • Focused in his interactions- does not waste time with subtleties, or speak to hear the sound of his own voice.
  • Direct about his desires, intentions, and needs, particularly with the opposite sex. 
  • A successful communicator who can persuade people with his logic 

High social intelligence 

  • Direct about his desires, intentions, and needs, particularly with the opposite sex. 

Healthy, fit, and generally clean;

  • Maintains physical health & fitness
  • Maintains mental health
  • Clean, and well-styled. 
  • Takes pride in how he looks.

Interesting and unique;

  • Brand. Human alpha males often have a unique 'brand' that distinguishes them uniquely from other males in the group. This creates interest, respect, and a sense of irreplacability.
  • Back story - as a part of the brand, alphas often have a unique & interesting history or life experiences

Privileges and Costs

Among primates, sex is the primary privilege of an alpha male. The alpha has primary access to the females of the social group.

However, alpha males have added responsibilities & risks...

They must keep their social group, including their supporting partners happy. For example, an alpha male is often supported by older males. If that support is taken away, they may lose their position.

High stress. Among primates, an alpha male has the same high cortisol levels as the lowest-ranking males in the coalition, because their position is continually tested. Alphas must continually watch their back- everyone wants their position.

Important notes

  • In the animal kingdom, the alpha role is singular. Among primate groups such as chimpanzees, there is only one alpha male, and one alpha female. Similarly in a room full of humans, there can generally only be one person in the alpha position at that moment.
  • In most social groups, there is both an alpha male, and an alpha female.
  • In a coalition, the primary alpha is not always male. Bonobos, who are just as closely related to humans as Chimpanzees are, are matriarchal.
  • The alpha male is not always the largest or strongest physically- alpha male is a measure of social position.
  • An alpha male is not a bully
  • The alpha is not necessarily the most influential group of the society- sometimes older males (ex-alpha-males) have more influence than the alpha.

Scientific study In primate groups

In this fascinating look at the "alpha male," primatologist Frans de Waal explores the privileges and costs of power while drawing surprising parallels between how humans and primates choose their leaders. His research reveals some of the unexpected capacities of alpha males -- generosity, empathy, even peacekeeping -- and sheds light on the power struggles of human politicians.


Further references

Wikipedia - Alpha (ethology)

Popular human alpha male descriptions (that are decently thought out and well-written);

How to Beast - Top 10 Traits of the Alpha Male

Chad Howse Fitness - 25 Characteristics of an Alpha Male

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