Why Alpha Matters


During any discussion comparing alphas and betas someone will point out that it seems arbitrary, that men are all on a scale. That is true; the level of alphaness of men is a straight line from zero to hero. The problem is that rewards to alphaness do not plot a straight line. This imbalance of rewards makes all the difference.

Nature never distributes rewards evenly in anything. Most of life has a Pareto or power law returns. These rewards can be any of the three pillars of alpha (in Roissy style: The three Ps, Power, Property, and Pussy).

The wealthiest 20 percent own vastly more than the next 20 percent. The most popular web pages gain vastly more readers than all the others. The most popular sports or entertainment stars gain vastly more attention than the rest. While I do not believe the 80/20 rule of sexual access is literally true, there is a huge gap between the most successful and the least successful.

Most probably think of the returns as looking like this:

Assumed rewards to alphaness.

The assumed, but incorrect, rewards to increased alphaness.

They actually look like this:
Actual rewards to alphaness.

The actual rewards to increased alphaness are not linear.

Where Would You Rather Live?

Looking at the second graph makes it clear the difference between alpha and beta. The alpha group lives in a land of relative plenty. Even for most alphas there are those with more, but it not as if they are lacking any rewards. The beta group, on the other hand, battles over relative little. There is a vast difference between living in the land of plenty and the land of scarcity. Friendly rivalry aside, Bill Gates probably does not worry about how wealthy Warren Buffett is and Arnold Schwarzenegger probably does not worry about Tom Cruise. They live in the land of plenty; they may suffer setbacks but will likely be comfortable for the rest of their life.

The average beta guy lives in a land of scarcity. He may do better than his neighbors but a small set-back (health or job loss) could send him reeling. Even if he scrambles up that curve he might find he really is not that much better off because the real rewards come much further along.

Therefore, when men speak of being alpha they mean occupying the fast rising portion of the graph. It is true that we all live somewhere on a sequential scale but some are more sequel than others.


33 Responses to “Why Alpha Matters”

  1. Phoenixism Says:

    I’m amazed by the relativistic nature of Alpha.

    You delineate it (as does everyone else in this blogosector) based upon putatively “popular” qualities.

    Possessions (more is never enough)

    Not in necessarily ascending or descending order.

    I think your grid could use another marker.
    Another graph line.

    One of self-estimation.

    I can tell you for a fact that I work in a corporate environment in which I co-exist with men and women who easily make 3 or 4 times what I make. They boast of “VP” level notoriety.

    It means nothing.
    I see these people as they exist in their marginal daily lives, carting around Blackberry’s and laptops housing all the corporation’s latest proprietary data. At the beck and call of the Masters 24/7.

    Then when their 23 hours are up, they go home and eat an instant dinner and kiss their sleeping infant child and go to sleep,

    Is that Alpha?

  2. Default User Says:

    If I had to substitute one word for “alpha” that word would be “power.” The alpha male has power over others. The most important aspect of this is power over other men (the ability to dominate). If I had to substitute one phrase for “dominate,” that phrase would be “generate fear.”

    I think alphas are born (mostly nature). Happy coincidence of nurture (any combination of, good looks, early success, early puberty, etc.) can help bring out the alpha in an ordinary man or enhance it in the natural alpha. Unhappy coincidence can weaken the alpha of the natural or crush it for the average man. However, I think it is mostly a gift, a gift given to some and denied to most.

    The men you describe likely occupy the beta portion of the graph. A stupid title and a six figure income moves them along the graph but they are still beta. They are far below the fast rising alpha portion of the graph. As you pointed out any power they have is purely nominal, they still serve not rule.

    . . .One of self-estimation.

    Unreasonable self-confidence is one mark of the alpha. Early success (in whatever endeavor) may generate that confidence. Happiness is a different thing, and does not necessarily move pari-pasu with alphaness. I am sure there are many unhappy men that others would consider alpha. Given that the majority of men are not alpha, and most have found some degree of happiness, it is obvious that alphaness alone will not generate happiness.

    I believe that many men can find happiness on the beta portion of the curve. The local librarian may not appear high status but because he is doing what he loves is far happier than the seven-figure corporate lawyer who wonders, “What’s it all about?”

    I think there is a primal need in men to dominate, to be top dog, to be the king, to be the alpha. The happy betas are those who can accept their lowly status or find an area where they can feel like the top dog. An example might be the coach of a small school team; he is not paid well (if at all), will never reach the big-time, but has garnered respect from a bunch of aggressive and unruly boys, and a certain place within the community.
    [In essence, he is an alpha but in a very narrow context.]
    [I actually have a post in mind that expands on some of the ideas expressed in this reply.]

  3. Rebekah Says:

    I don’t understand these discussions. As insensitive as that may sound, I can compare it to the predilection for super-beautiful, tall women. These are the women who will always garner loads of accolades. They will always be preferred and the upper-echelon females. But to spend every waking minute bummed b/c I’m not one of them does nothing for my quality of life. There is preference, and they are it. I will never be a 5’8″ statuesque beauty, but ruminating over it will not change things; if anything, it will take any attractiveness I do have and make it less appealing. I think the same can be said of the alpha/beta agony. There is a role and place in this world for everyone. Generalizing kind of robs that.

    {Although I do understand the value of self-improvement, from which most of the population can benefit}

  4. Default User Says:

    I am not sure about “agony” but it is a useful and important concept. I think the rewards for beauty are less unbalanced. There is far less of an alpha curve for female beauty. There is far less of an on/off effect regarding female beauty.

    Some of the “agony” comes from the fact we feel we should be able to change our position in the alpha hierarchy, unlike a woman who can do less to alter her looks. You may not be a 5’8″ statuesque beauty but no one expects you to be able to change into one. No one blames you for not being one. A man’s low place on the hierarchy is assumed to be his fault by himself and others.
    [Strangely, many in the PUAsphere deny the blank slate on HBD issues but fully accept it on alpha issues. In other words they assume a dumb person cannot become smart, but a beta chump can be come a dominant alpha male.]

  5. Rebekah Says:

    Perhaps you feel this way because you are male don’t understand the pressure women feel to look a very specific way, in the same way you’re saying men are supposed to be a specific way. Yes, different forms of beauty are accepted, just like lots of men who are not necessarily “alpha” are accepted. You’re posing the idea that alpha is the preferred way of being, and I’m saying that more often than not, specific ideas of beauty potentially leave most women outside preference, too. Both, then, become an expectation. The moral of my comment to you was, yes we should all develop ourselves to be the best we can, and then let it go. To constantly wish to be something different is certainly agonizing.

  6. Default User Says:

    The point of my post was to offer a reason why we (well some of us) men do the alpha/beta thing to death.

    I agree, the best solution is reaching your own peak and being happy with that.

    If blogs are not a place to beat ideas to death, then where? It is not as if most bloggers spend a lot of time discussing alpha/beta dichotomy in the real world (well I don’t anyway) .

    I acknowledge your points regarding the pressures women face to have “the look.” But it’s my blog and I will cry if I want to. :/
    [Obviously I will tend to write from the male point (actually my point) of view but I do enjoy hearing the distaff side too]

  7. Rebekah Says:

    Thank you for the acknowledgement. I really appreciate it.

    You are right. You should be able to have the space to work through things you think about and are important to you. A blog is a wonderful space to do that.

    I hope you’ll have more dialogue that’s more helpful to you than my two cents.

    Have a great weekend, btw. 🙂

  8. Default User Says:

    I do enjoy your comments and thoughtful responses. Your comments were helpful. I like throwing ideas out there; I am not very dogmatic. It is nice to get (some) pushback.

    I hope you did not think the “it’s my blog and I will cry if I want to” line was dismissive. It was just a flippant line reflecting the “throw ideas out there” spirit of my posts.

  9. Phoenixism Says:

    Hey DU, I was slightly “lit” when I commented on Thursday and my thoughts were a stream of boisterous confusion, sorry about that! 🙂

    I do think the concept of Alpha is very gray and slippery.
    I see where you are going with the “power” quotient, but power as it relates to what, how?

    Power in the Western, consumerist, capitalist sense?
    What of those who don’t buy into this power paradigm?

    I believe Alpha, if it’s even directly and plainly quantifiable, represents a trait , or rather, a personality type, composed of many unseen and subconscious primitive layers.

    Those who seek power for the sake of power are weak.

    I would suggest, speaking of happiness, that all Alphas must have peace of mind as an integral part of their personality. I feel that “Alpha” is about 80% mental and the remainder pure brutishness.

    Not only is it the ability to assert physical prowess, it’s the willingness as well.

  10. fkgeorgewill Says:

    Default – read your comments over at Annouk’s. Outstanding. Fuck George Will.

    “When four years of college gets you a job and not a chance to train your Indian replacement then maybe college will be worthwhile.”

    I’ve done that. The social contract is broken – any opportunity to screw those fuckers i’ll take. The alphas joined the outsourcing company or got great redundancies. The lack of any fellow feeling was astonishing. Are you in I.T?

    “The average beta guy lives in a land of scarcity.”
    Taxes, food, fuel, rent and eventually the ability to exhale CO2 will eat up the paycheck – that’s the plan.

  11. Default User Says:

    Thanks. I enjoy a good rant now and again. I am glad someone else did.

    I enjoyed it so much I reposted it at Season’s of Tumult and Discord. That is probably enough for now; I don’t want to become tiresome bore.

    Are you in I.T?

    I started there, but I am no longer directly involved in I.T. I am more a generalist (part of the problem), having a mixture of business and technical expertise. Business analyst is probably the best description.

  12. Default User Says:


    Those who seek power for the sake of power are weak.

    That might be part of it; alphas have power, trust, and respect given to them because their nature earns the respect of others. Some may aggressively seek it out but others will just “fall into” it.

    Hey DU, I was slightly “lit” when I commented on Thursday and my thoughts were a stream of boisterous confusion, sorry about that!

    Congratulations. When I am “lit,” the last thing I am capable of is making coherent written comments (at some point even spoken comments become a problem).

    I think we agree on the alpha traits, in that they are a mixture of things “composed of many unseen and subconscious primitive layers.” I also agree that willingness to use force or power is as important as the ability to use it.

    I would use “power” to mean the ability to influence others or control your environment. The expression of that power may differ from person to person or place to place. I enjoy nice stuff, but do not consider myself particularly caught up in the consumer scramble (no iPhone or iPod, and older car, a modest standard def TV (mostly to play DVDs), etc.).

  13. fsharp Says:

    Just posted over at seasons (was fkgeorgewill).

    Will is a … vajazzle. It’s got really nice insulting ring to it. Maybe this is how FB can own the term – lol.

    Great writing – lots of food for thought. Once you have awaken from the matrix (as Dave from Hawaii might put) this alpha/beta Game stuff is everywhere.

  14. Default User Says:


    I like the idea of using vajazzle(d) as a mocking term for males.

  15. Weekend Link Fest – Gentlemen prefer blondes edition « Seasons of Tumult and Discord Says:

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  18. Rebekah Says:

    How are you, Default? Long time no post…

  19. Default User Says:


    Long time no post

    Writers block.

    Actually one post idea I had was to write about how I am in a rut. . .

    I see you have knocked Moz of the front page (or top story to be more accurate) of your blog. How could you?

  20. Rebekah Says:

    You could explain your reasoning in the your comment on this post


    I know! It feels weird with Moz in second place. He’s always first in my heart, though.

  21. Default User Says:


    You could explain your reasoning in the your comment on this post…

    [Given the topic of the post you linked] Is that a play on the word “rut?” Naughty girl :/

  22. Rebekah Says:

    Hmm… I’m kind of confused but think your are suggesting that one of us is telling the other to zip it?

    I read that particular post for the first time the other day, as someone recently commented on it and brought it the top of recently commented. I was a bit shocked when I came across your feelings on the discussion. It made me wonder if all men, say outside certain circles like church and such, feel this way. If so, I certainly don’t want to waster their time, b/c there is no way in hades I would do something like that on a third date — not even with Morrissey. (haha)

    I’m not judging your feelings or people who do get to that level on the third date, as there is lots of room for all different types of preferences in the world, but at first glance that mentality is almost frightening to me. But then I thought maybe if you, or man of that opinion, explained it and opened up the discussion, it would bring in some healthy dialogue. But perhaps it’s already been done at Girl Game and would cause a messy battle.

    It was just a thought in any case.

  23. Rebekah Says:

    I just want to follow up b/c I feel like my last comment sounds really judgmental and I don’t want to sound/be that way. I guess my main thought is, none of us should be penalized for being the way we are. People who want to move quickly through the relationship process should feel comfortable doing so, but it should not be automatically assumed of people who don’t that they are doing for it any other reason than personal conviction, background, etc.

  24. Default User Says:

    I do not want to re-open that discussion on the GirlGame blog.

    I am not sure I have the energy right now to give much of an answer. I may try to give you a better answer later.

    At its simplest, a man wants to feel that the woman is sexually attracted to him. That is why he is there. That does not mean it is the only reason he is there, but it is an important part. If she feels no attraction then he is wasting his time.

    If she is attracted then the question is why are we waiting? I do not think you know each other all that much better after six dates than three. Is there a correct waiting period? I do not think so.

    I agree with the notion that many (but not all) women will justify a moving to sex quickly for the “right guy.” So if she would do that for the “right guy” but not me it means I am not the “right guy.’ If am not the “right guy” then why are my wasting my time with her. Let her find her “right guy.”

    This is tough on genuinely chaste women. They are stuck in an environment that essentially does not believe them.

    Not even for the Moz? 🙂

  25. Default User Says:


    I just want to follow up b/c I feel like my last comment sounds really judgmental

    No problem. I understood where you were coming from. That is what the “They are stuck in an environment that essentially does not believe them.” part of my earlier reply meant.
    [I am logging off now, so no reply does not mean I am ignoring you]

  26. Rebekah Says:

    If a man or woman is concerned about wasting his or her time, perhaps it’s better for all involved to just move on. No harm done, really, I suppose. And maybe this is an early indicator of incompatibility at the very least. I just had no idea people really had the “Three Date Rule.”

    [I am logging off now, so no reply does not mean I am ignoring you]

    Your blog must be on call at all times.

    P.S., Not even for Moz. Although it would be hard because we already have a fabulous connection.

  27. Default User Says:

    Some more points.

    I sort of liked that reply of mine. It did not contain any great narrative or elegant argument but did have a certain amount of focused aggression.

    I am not sure what you thought my views would be. I am far from a player but if I am with a woman it is because I am sexually attracted.* As I said before this does not imply that is my sole interest, but most likely sexual attraction was what motivated my approach.
    [* OK I have been friends with women but in situations where there is no romantic possibilities. Even in those cases I never have anything that could be considered a date (just the two of us).]

    An intimate act like sexual intercourse (for most) will involve a certain amount of doubt and needs a level of trust. I am not convinced that extending no fly zone guarantees any better result. If a relationship is going to work out it will work out. If it is not going to work out it won’t. A relationship that fails after sex might jus as well fail whether the sex happened on hour three, date three, or year three. Sometimes sex will strengthen the relationship and sometimes it may weaken it (after sated sexual desire they realize they are really not that compatible). This dynamic is not dependent on the time lag between meet and greet.

    If women fear the dreaded pump ‘n’ dump, then men fear the unpump ‘n’ chump. I cannot believe that any man wants to fall into provider, friend, and protector category while been excluded from the lover category.

    I will not regurgitate the already blogged stories, that I am sure you already know, of women that proclaimed the virtues of holding out, but all fell for the aggressive “alpha” guy. Essentially, they talked one way, but acted another. Why would any man want to be the chump that waits rather than the guy that is having hot sex at the end of date one.

    Along with those blogged stories, I know of one (real life) “chaste” woman that ended up having sex with some guy she met at a party. She was nice enough and liked me. Had we ever got together I probably would have been the chump that she made to wait. What would waiting have gained me? It would not have gained me anything that the party guy did not get on night one.
    [I was not particularly attracted to this woman and feel no jealousy, but I did realize that even cautious women will throw caution to the wind for the “right guy”

    You could view my reply (the one GirlGame) as a manifesto for the “beta” guy. In crude Roissyarian terms it said: if you want the pussy do not be a pussy. It said that you would just as likely leave a woman dissatisfied by inaction (all that waiting) then by trying to get “some action.” A passionate beginning does not preclude any long-term commitment. In fact, it is probably a better start than a slow build friendship where both parties eventually agree, “it is time for sex.” Actually, I think the longer wait could make the entire exercise more and not less awkward. In short, every man should aspire to be the “right guy.”
    [Waiting: it is what you do at airports, doctors offices, and the DMV.]

    I do understand that many women will not throw caution to the wind for the “right guy” or any guy. Like all else, this needs a sense of judgment. I still believe that most men could do with been slightly less of a gentleman and more of a player. So few men are even close to been players that such a move will still leave them in the gentleman category.

  28. Default User Says:


    Your blog must be on call at all times.

    The alpha male needs to have occasional unexplained absences to keep that air of mystery.

  29. Bhetti Says:

    Re: chastity. Marriage historically was an easy, quickly concluded business.

  30. Rebekah Says:


    Thank you for explaining your experience to me. I completely respect that experience, as well as your feelings. You have to do what works for you.

    I’m constantly amazed by the different experiences we all have in life that so shape our view of the world and the people in it. So, when I cross paths with someone of totally different experiences and opinions, it’s like cold water in the face! But it’s good. I would prefer to have my outlook challenged, as it becomes more realistic that way.

    Thanks again for sharing. I agree, at the very least, that both men and women have specific fears regarding relationships, and this influences us to act in crazy ways!

  31. Default User Says:


    it’s like cold water in the face!

    I hope it wasn’t too cold!

    You are right the whole dating/mating can be crazy. I suppose it the mixture of deep needs and strong drives.

    Thanks for commenting. Like you, I enjoy the challenge of comparing my views to others.

  32. Default User Says:


    Marriage historically was an easy, quickly concluded business.

    It still can be. Divorce is the messy business.

  33. Random Thoughts: Capitalism and Communism « Default User Says:

    […] I discussed before, whether it is wealth, power, number of fans, or blog hits, the rewards to success are not linear. […]

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