The whole concept of “Alpha Male” originated in studies of wolves and the theory that an “Alpha” wolf leads a pack, and that the “Beta” males and females defer to his dominance. The theory was based on the work of L. David Mech (pronounced Meech) in the early 1960s and popularized in the 1970s. Mech is a senior research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. He has researched wolves since 1958 in locations including northern Minnesota, Isle Royale, Alaska, Yellowstone National Park, Ellesmere Island, and Italy.
However, Mech himself has debunked the Alpha Male theory. In his publication, Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor, in Wolf Packs, [Mech, L. David. 1999. Alpha status, dominance, and division of labor in wolf packs. Canadian Journal of Zoology 77:1196-1203. Jamestown, ND: Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center Home Page. http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/2000/alstat/alstat.htm, (Version 16MAY2000).] Mech says:
The prevailing view of a wolf (Canis lupus) pack is that of a group of individuals ever vying for dominance but held in check by the “alpha” pair, the alpha male and the alpha female. Most research on the social dynamics of wolf packs, however, has been conducted on non-natural assortments of captive wolves. Here I describe the wolf-pack social order as it occurs in nature, discuss the alpha concept and social dominance and submission, and present data on the precise relationships among members in free-living packs based on a literature review and 13 summers of observations of wolves on Ellesmere Island, Northwest Territories, Canada. I conclude that the typical wolf pack is a family, with the adult parents guiding the activities of the group in a division-of-labor system in which the female predominates primarily in such activities as pup care and defense and the male primarily during foraging and food-provisioning and the travels associated with them. (You can view a pdf of the publication at http://www.wolf.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/267alphastatus_english.pdf)
In other words, the whole “Alpha Male” thing was a result of forced captivity. The natural division of labor system was based on a family. The deference shown was the natural deference of child to parent. In humans, these two research articles, one from Berkeley and one in Psychology Today show the whole situation to be much more complex than some simple popular concept. The author of the Berkeley article says:
Thus, I think a much more effective and healthier route for men having difficulty attracting women is not to attempt to cultivate the traits of the stereotypical, dominant “alpha,” but to cultivate the traits of the prestigious man. This means developing a skill that brings value to society, and cultivating a stable sense of identity. Such a route will not only make you more attractive to women, but will also create the most satisfying life for yourself in general. In my view, attempting to don the persona of the “alpha” is analogous to building a house of cards. There’s no stable foundation supporting your worth.
It’s time we shed these black and white categories, and embrace a much more multidimensional concept of masculinity. The most attractive male is really a blend of characteristics, including assertiveness, kindness, cultivated skills, and a genuine sense of value in this world. The true alpha is fuller, deeper, and richer.
As we examine the seemingly never-ending wave of sexual assault allegations that are knocking handfuls of powerful men off their perches each day, as we read about the numerous hazing-related deaths at fraternities, as we come to accept the fact that our country elected a man who bragged about grabbing women by the genitals without consent, we have to acknowledge that toxic masculinity is a systemic problem…
We need to destroy the idea of the alpha male and all it’s associated labels, and replace it with something far simpler and broader. There’s really no reason to involve gender at all: be a good person. The qualities associated with gender are almost entirely a social construction; there’s no reason for them to exist. We can be reductive here: be responsible, be gracious, be generous, be compassionate, be empathetic, be caring, be kind.
I totally agree with these articles. It was an artificial concept to begin with, it never existed in nature. It was a result of wolves being held in captivity. Christians especially should shun the concept. It is completely contrary to the way Jesus acted. Time to retire the “Alpha Male”.