Monday, May 9, 2011


In social animals, the alpha is the individual in the community with the highest rank. Where one male and one female fulfill this role, they are referred to as the alpha pair (the term varies when several females fulfill this role – it is extremely rare among mammals for several males to fulfill this role with one female). Other animals in the same social group may exhibit deference or other symbolic signs of respect particular to their species towards the alpha.

The alpha animals are given preference to be the first to eat and the first to mate; among some species they are the only animals in the pack allowed to mate. Other animals in the community are usually killed or ousted if they violate this rule.

The term "alpha male" is sometimes applied to humans to refer to a man who is powerful through his courage and a competitive, goal-driven, "take charge" attitude. With their bold approach and confidence "alpha males" are often described as charismatic. While "alpha males" are often overachievers and recognized for their leadership qualities, their aggressive tactics and competitiveness can also lead to resentment by others.

The term "alpha female" is used to refer to females that possess similar traits.

The status of the alpha is often achieved by means of superior physical prowess. The individual in the alpha position usually changes when another challenges it to a fight, in some species to the death, and wins. Consequently, alphas may have to fight individuals in their own group several times to maintain their position throughout their lifetimes. In species where the fight is to the death, alphas rarely reach old age. In some species, a nomadic individual may approach the alpha, successfully beat him, and thus become the new alpha. When this occurs in the lion community, the new alpha usually kills the previous alpha's cubs. In addition, several lions may share alpha privileges in what is usually called a coalition. The social group usually follows the alpha to the hunt and to new breeding or resting grounds. The alpha is thus sometimes seen as deciding the fate of the group. If two groups of the same species find themselves competing for the same ground, they may let the alphas fight, letting the outcome decide which group stays.

Social animals in a hierarchic community have a certain rank. Five of these ranks have attracted special attention in ethology and been given applicable names: alpha, beta, gamma, delta, and omega.Beta and omega

A beta animal is an animal that is second-in-command to the reigning alpha and will act as a new alpha animal if the old alpha dies. In some species of birds, the males pair up in twos when courting, the beta male aiding the alpha male. The beta male does not generally get to mate with the female birds, but if the alpha dies, he takes over the alpha's females, becoming the new alpha.

Omega (usually rendered ω-male) is an antonym used to refer to the lowest caste of the hierarchical society. An omega is subordinated to all others in the community. The omega is commonly the last allowed to eat.

By clade

Chimpanzees show deference to the alpha of the community by ritualised gestures such as bowing, allowing the alpha to walk first in a procession, or standing aside when the alpha challenges.Primates

Gorillas use intimidation to establish and maintain alpha position.


Canines (e.g. wolves, dogs, jackals, foxes) show deference to the alpha pair in their pack by allowing them to be the first to eat and, usually, the only pair to mate. Canines use eye contact to maintain alpha position, but in order to establish their position they often have to show physical superiority, through playing or fighting. In the case of wild canids the alpha male may not have exclusive access to the alpha female; moreover, other pack members may guard the maternity den used by the alpha female; such is the case with the African Wild DogLycaon pictus.Modern knowledge of wolves dismisses the idea of alpha male in a pack, favoring the concept of breeder wolf, in the sense that in these animals the pack leader is simply the common parent, and its status is not obtained by fighting.


ALPHA MALE is a term used in describing any group or society of animals that live closely together and have a dominant leader. Alpha dog is often used in both domesticated breeds of dogs and in wolf societies to express the leadership characteristics of the dog to which all other dogs defer. There are also alpha females or leading females in many pack animal societies (including human societies), with the alpha female having dominance over all females in the pack and possibly some of the lower beta males or omega males.

In human societies alpha male can mean very different things. Some use the term to mean the guy who seems most at ease with women and can essentially marry or date any woman of his choice. In this sense the alpha male is often good-looking, has a great build, and may have a relatively high socioeconomic status. These distinctions may be less noticed in human groups like high school settings. Generally the alpha male (or a group of alpha males) are the cutest guys, usually muscle-bound, sometimes the "jocks," while beta males may be less assured around females and may participate in less "male" activities.

The guys who join math teams or play chess at lunch are usually the beta males and may be thought less attractive by girls. It should be noted that "nerds" (and here we use the term fondly and affectionately), are becoming increasingly popular. As long-term mates or "boyfriends," they stereotypically on average tend to be nicer and more respectful toward girls. This article also does not imply that all attractive males are necessarily alphaAlpha males are more about exhibiting traits that are essentially masculine or "macho." Many attractive males are beta to the core when it comes to relating with people.

In work settings, the alpha male may be a natural leader, exuding confidence. But he also may be contentious, demanding and difficult to work with. This is thought to be in part due to the alpha male attempting to retain his stature, however unconsciously, as alpha. Being the top salesperson, the quickest worker, the most aggressive boss may contribute to remaining at the top, and the alpha male has a tendency to respond aggressively to any attempts by others to outshine him.

This is true in non-human settings too. The alpha male is continually being tested to see if he remains dominant and may need to stage pitched fights with upcoming males in a group to remain "top dog." In the human setting, the alphamale usually doesn't fight physically, but instead acts with language, brusque or dismissive behavior, or with other tactics to remain at the top.

Though leaders in a company are excellent to have, alpha male characteristics in the workplace may not always be seen as positive. Aggression and disregard for others are not necessarily inspiring. Some people better lead by being "beta" and having good communication skills, sensitivity toward others, and downplaying their strengths so they can showcase the strengths of others.

In adult social settings, alpha males again may be judged not so much by aggression, but by their ability to get the most attractive women as mates. This is the primary reason for alpha behavior in other animals.

The alpha male in adult society is likely to be confident, attractive, and wealthy. Questions remain as to whether thealpha male can retain mates, since relationships often require ability to compromise, to discuss feelings and to be sensitive. Some alpha males have these characteristics typically thought of as beta, but many of them lack such traits. You can certainly point to prominent alpha males in our society who seem to have poor track records with women, either involving themselves in a succession of failed relationships or marrying one woman after another, with no marriage lasting for very long.

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