Male members among social animal species can fall into the roles of alphas and betas. These terms are also used to refer to male humans, although this type of usage is dismissed in mainstream science for being pseudoscientific. Regardless, calling someone an “alpha male” or a “beta male” still serves as a shorthand for distinguishing men who are seen as more masculine from those who act effeminately.
How is an alpha male different from a beta male?
The main difference between an alpha male and a beta male lies in their interactions within the group’s dominance hierarchy. Alpha males are described as more domineering and aggressive, while beta males are characterized as submissive and more docile.
This article will compare the two terms as they are applied to human males.
What is an Alpha Male?
An alpha male is conventionally portrayed as a male who exhibits “masculine” characteristics, such as superior strength, aggression, and confidence. Their imposing physical presence and charisma place them at the top of the dominance hierarchy.
People tend to gravitate around alphas, and they are often the leading figures in their social groups. They are observed to attract more mates, and can more easily impose their will onto beta males, forcing them into submission.
Alphas enjoy taking the initiative. They are sanguine, possessing great reserves of energy for pursuing tasks. Many are also stubborn and are likely to challenge others to outmatch them.
What is a Beta Male?
Beta males are typified by being less masculine than their alpha counterparts. They are more subdued, docile, and unsure of themselves, and are usually even physically weaker. Some betas eschew masculinity altogether, adopting effeminate manners of speech, clothing, or behavior.
Due to factors such as their inferior physicality and lack of aggression, betas are not given the same respect in social groups as alphas. Adopting a “nice guy” attitude and taking a passive-aggressive approach to their problems makes them appear weak and they are liable to be taken for granted, even among friends and acquaintances.
Betas struggle in mobilizing others, and typically do not make the first moves – whether in their romantic, professional, or social life. They are instead more pliant to the wills and demands of other, more dominant personalities.
Differences between Alpha Males and Beta Males
Alphas are more invested in their body’s strength and physical presence, understanding the value of being able to physically outmatch others in a competitive or high-stress situation. Many alpha males take the effort to bulk up, gain muscle mass, and tone their bodies. This physical prowess also helps them in attracting mates.
Betas are less inclined to care about their body’s bulk or fitness. Beta body shapes are diverse; some are pasty and skinny, while others are fat or generally unfit. A poor diet and lack of exercise – especially if they are not engaged in meaningful physical hobbies – contribute to their often-inferior physicality.
As the primary male hormone, testosterone is found in higher levels among alpha males, promoting aggression, strength, and masculinity. This hormone is also seen to promote risk-taking and competitive behavior.
Betas have low testosterone levels, which make them inclined towards docility, conflict avoidance, and “playing it safe.” A lack of testosterone also lowers their libido.
Alphas exude high confidence, self-esteem, and determination. Contrary to how they are portrayed online, many alpha males also have a strong sense of humility and humor and can be quite emotionally intelligent. Although many possess an aggressive nature, they are less prone to anxious or self-defeating behavior.
Betas are more insecure. Their inner selves can be turbulent and volatile, as they are much more sensitive to their emotional states. Many betas exhibit neuroticism, making them more irritable, self-conscious, self-doubt, and even depression.
An alpha male’s confidence, extraversion and physical qualities make them quite charismatic in social settings. They are larger-than-life, more outgoing, attract more friends, and are good fits for leadership positions. However, their displays of dominance and aggression may lead some people to dislike them.
Betas are naturally submissive in social contexts. They tend to follow rules and norms, avoid attention, and follow the lead of other group members. They may still be found in prestigious social positions, although they are less flagrant about demonstrating their power.
Sexual and Romantic Behavior
By embodying more masculine traits, including strength, protectiveness, risk-taking and aggression, alpha males have an advantage over betas in attracting romantic partners and mates. Betas who are seen as boring, weak, submissive or incapable are unattractive to potential mates.
Mode of Confrontation
When faced with problematic people or issues, alpha males are inclined towards aggressive or assertive modes of confrontation. They are more determined to impose or assert their will. Betas, contrarily, tend to confront their issues passive-aggressively to compensate for their lack of force. They may even fall passive and refuse to do anything altogether, surrendering their agency.
Alpha males, as a term, are linked to another popular internet term – “chad,” who represents a stereotypical fitness-focused alpha male. A Chad used to connote bullying or toxic behavior, but has been reclaimed to espouse more positive masculine virtues, such as helpfulness and bravery.
Betas are linked to many other derogatory terms online – among them are soy boys, cucks, simps and incels, mostly relating to unhealthy attitudes, such as a self-destructive need to please women or an inability to protect their mates from rivals.
Comparison Chart: Alpha Males Vs Beta Males
|Areas||Alpha Male||Beta Male|
|Physicality||Developed; values strength and fitness||Physique tends to be underdeveloped|
|Self-Image||Confident, determined and stable||Anxious, turbulent and neurotic|
|Social Behavior||Magnetic and outgoing; can be domineering||Obedient, avoidant, subdued and submissive|
|Sexual and Romantic Behavior||Protective and aggressive||Restrained; may lack initiative|
|Mode of Confrontation||Aggressive or assertive||Passive-aggressive or avoidant|
|Related Terms||Chad||Soy boy, simp, cuck, incel|
How are Alpha Males and Beta Males similar?
Both types of men have the capacity to possess various masculine traits, including physical strength, charisma and aggression. Biologically, alphas and betas are also similar in that testosterone acts as their primary sex hormone.
Most alphas and betas are far from belligerent to one another; they may both share interests and bond over the pursuit of fitness, romantic partners and mates, and brotherly challenges and competitions.
Alpha and beta males both refer to men, specifically; their counterparts – alpha and beta females – also exist.
What is a Sigma male?
A Sigma male is another type of male, traditionally depicted as possessing the same dominant characteristics as Alphas.
What sets Sigmas apart from Alphas can be seen in their social behavior. Compared to an Alpha’s extraverted and sociable tendencies, Sigma males are defined by their introspection. They are more socially or emotionally distant from their peers, and often act alone, although they can easily slip into social settings and mingle with an Alpha’s level of charisma.
Popular Sigma males include James Bond and Han Solo in fiction, and people such as Keanu Reeves in real life.
Which animals have alpha males?
Many social animals have hierarchies where alphas can be found. Alpha male behavior has been observed in primates, such as Capuchin monkeys, Japanese snow monkeys and chimpanzees.
Surprisingly, recent research asserts that wolves don’t actually have alpha male or female roles in a pack. However, many other animals have alphas or dominant males, such as the rooster at the highest level of the pecking order among chickens, as well as baboons.
Alpha and beta males are types of men occupying the dominance hierarchy of a group. They are different in several aspects, mostly involving their social behavior.
Alphas boast greater physicality and higher testosterone levels. They are more confident and emotionally stable, as opposed to the neurotic and anxious nature in betas. Alphas are also more outgoing, sociable and domineering; betas are inclined towards restraint, obedience and submission.
Betas confront their issues passive-aggressively, or avoid them entirely, while alphas will make an aggressive effort to assert themselves. An alpha’s confidence and physique help them appeal to many mates, while betas may struggle romantically due to their weakness and lack of initiative.