“Safe sex, safe clothing, safe hairspray, safe ozone layer,…too late! Everything that’s been achieved in the history of mankind has been achieved by not being safe.”
– Lemmy Kilmister, Mötorhead
In the Think Like a Woman post comments Rational Reader Jeremiah presented me with a well worn question:
My question is, Tomassi, do you think alpha traits are usually learned or genetically inherited? What percentage of modern men “get it” and of the men who “get it” how many of them have always “gotten it” and how many of them learned to adapt? It is hard to believe there are still naturals out there when feminism is being rammed up the anus of every man before he sprouts his first tooth.
As I’ve illuminated in past posts, I don’t think distilling the essence of Alpha ‘presence’ in a Man is as subjective as most people feel compelled to qualify, enumerate or otherwise yammer on about in as personally identifying a manner as they can muster. In this humble blogger’s estimation Alpha is a state of mind, not a demographic. The manosphere will endlessly debate the qualifications of what is Alpha, but I think for the most part, the influence of an Alpha mindset (whatever the qualifiers) is more or less agreed upon.
However, with this in mind, I think it’s a perfectly valid question to ask whether an Alpha is born that way or molded into his Alpha mindset. This is actually the classic debate psychology has always always put to its various schools of thought; Nature vs. Nurture – is a dynamic influenced by inherent, biological, environmental prompts or is that dynamic a learned, socialized and acculturated phenomenon? And of course the equally classic conflict comes from people attempting to define various dynamics in terms of absolutes, when to greater or lesser degrees a dynamic is influenced by both nature and nurturing elements.
While the Tomassi school of psychology is firmly planted in the nuts and bolts of behaviorism, it’s also important to take into account that external influences can and too often do modify innate, inborn predilections – even inborn self-preservation instincts.
So with this in mind, my perspective on the origin of Alpha is that biology determines the starting point for Alpha, what happens to it from there is modified by a man’s environmental conditions. Alpha ‘energy’, for lack of a better term, is to varying degrees, part of a male human’s biologically determined “starting package”; from there, through social feedback, it’s either refined and developed by his upbringing, acculturation and social affirming, or it’s repressed, constrained and mitigated by his social environment.
When I was in art school one of my most influential teachers told me, “There are two types of artists; those who were born with a natural, innate gift for art, and those who lack that gift, but possess such a passion for art that it drives them to be good at it. The true masters are the artists that combine both natural talent and the drive that comes from a passion for it.” I’ve always referred back to this model in my creative efforts, but I believe this model can be extended beyond just the artistic sense.
The Learned Alpha
Roosh has an excellent breakdown of The Myth of the Natural that perfectly encapsulates the learning theory of Alpha. The premise behind this is that Alpha behavior, and consequently facility with women, comes as a set of modeled behaviors based upon trial and error.
If I were forced to agree on what a natural is, it would be a man who’s a prodigy of sex—someone who gets laid way above other men with no formal instruction in game. This means he was not exposed to any 12 DVD “Cocky Humor” sets or seminars in a hotel room with three dozen other guys. You look at him and think, “Wow, he gets laid automatically. He was born to get laid!”
But he wasn’t. Just because he didn’t read a book doesn’t mean he didn’t learn through trial and error like you did, practicing his game on a large number of women. It doesn’t mean that he wasn’t conscious and deliberate with his behavior, incrementally improving his moves and tactics over a long period of time. He has experimented like you have experimented, and he has also connected his attempts with results to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
He may not be obsessive about it enough to log his data into a spreadsheet, but he’s mindful and aware of what he’s doing. He understands the mechanism behind charm and can often turn it on or off depending on what he wants. He has learned the type of humor and story-telling that gets a positive response in women. The last thing you can say about him was that he was born into the world with the “automatic” ability to fuck a lot of girls.
Essentially what Roosh explores here is a very basic behavioral psychology premise – macro-psychological dynamics to micro-psychological schema are developed, deliberately or unconsciously, through a process of deductive trial and error management. Whether you’re aware of it or not, everyone has Game to varying degrees. Every man you know has some concept of behaviors and mental attitudes he believes will best help him arrive at sexual intimacy with a woman. Even the worst Blue Pill Beta believes he has some idea of how best to get with a girl.
All of this proto-Game has been in a constant state of trial and error management since you were five years old and had your first interaction with the opposite sex on the kindergarten playground, right up to the point when you discovered the Red Pill. And you will continue to modify your old behavior and mental sets based upon the new information available to you after you adopt formalized Game. In fact, in its rawest sense, the PUA community, the manosphere and all its permutations are really a meta-effort in behavioral modification by way of experimentation and information feedback.
For some this learning process comes easier than it does for others. Again Roosh:
The reason he blows you away isn’t because of his genetics, but because of how early he started. A unique set of circumstances threw him into the sex game years before you, during a time he was lucky enough to be surrounded by giggly schoolgirls. By the time you did your first approach, he had already practiced his game on hundreds of women.
While I do agree with this from a behavioral standpoint, this is where I have to depart from accepting Roosh’s theory entirely. There are far too many biological and environmental determinants involved in developing an Alpha male to ascribe an Alpha status based solely on learned behavior. The simple, observable, fact is that a genetically better looking, more physically arousing male is going to statistically have more opportunities to experiment and develop his Alpha Game prowess than a less physically impressive male. In theory, a man with a more advantageous physical presence will “start earlier” in his process of deductively evaluating behaviors since his efforts will be more frequently encouraged by the women who are naturally attracted to his physique.
Unfortunately all of that assumes developing a behavioral set in a vacuum. There’s literally a world of environmental conditions and variables that would predispose a man towards behavioral development of Alpha status or (more often) limit him from it. Roosh touches on this:
At this point you may be thinking, “Well, there have to be guys who were born with it. Look at Mozart!”
Nobody questions that Mozart’s achievements were extraordinary compared with those of his contemporaries. What’s often forgotten, however, is that his development was equally exceptional for his time. His musical tutelage started before he was four years old, and his father, also a skilled composer, was a famous music teacher and had written one of the first books on violin instruction. Like other world-class performers, Mozart was not born an expert—he became one.
I don’t think this example excludes for a natural, innate talent, but it does help to illustrate the environment’s role in molding a person by limiting or encouraging his behavioral development and ultimately his personality. In the Mozart example we see the success story (the story of a master artist) of a natural talent encouraged and developed to potential by favorable external conditions. Mozart was the perfect storm of natural talent and an ideal environment for nurturing it, thus giving him the advantage of an “early start” in his behavioral trial and error efforts.
Jeremiah laments, “It is hard to believe there are still naturals out there when feminism is being rammed up the anus of every man before he sprouts his first tooth” and of course this is a negative example of an environment (deliberately) averse to nurturing an Alpha mindset. There’s no shortage of examples, but feminization from a behavioral psychology perspective, is nothing less than a socialized effort in deliberate behavioral modification of men’s natural drives and predilections to better fit the feminine imperative. As men socialized in an all-encompassing, pervasive, fem-centric reality, we tend to see “Natural Alphas” as outliers because somehow, through some combination of innate gift and external development, these Men have developed themselves into an Alpha state despite the meta-environment we find ourselves in.
The Natural Alpha
A lot of people call my credibility into question when they read my holding Corey Worthington up as an example of an apex Alpha. Guys who believe that Alpha should necessarily mean “virtuous leaders of men” are understandably insulted by Corey’s indifferent Alpha swagger. As I started in this post, the ‘Qualities of Alpha’ debates aren’t going away, but I think there’s an overall consensus among the manosphere and legitimate psychologists alike that there is an innate (probably testosterone fueled) Alpha drive that manifests itself in human males.
No one has to teach the average, healthy, five-year-old boy how to be Alpha – he gets it on his own. In various contexts that ‘lil’ Alpha’ wants to explore his surroundings, take risks, see what works and see what doesn’t, even when the consequences may be endangering himself or destroying the thing he took apart to see how it worked. It may manifest as a boy attempting to ride wheelies on his bike or a kid tinkering with his dad’s computer, but that unrefined, irrationally confident, Alpha swagger, is by order of degrees, an innate element unique to the male condition.
When a boy is unencumbered with an adult capacity for abstract thinking (ages 3-21 progressively) he is as Alpha as he will ever be. He is unapologetically Alpha and it takes a lifetime, and an entire world of feminized social conditioning to repress and/or crush that Alpha vigor and turn him into the pliable Beta the feminine imperative needs to insure its social primacy. This is precisely why the raw, irresponsible, irrepressible, obliviously un-self-aware Alpha energy of the Alpha Buddah/Corey Worthingtons of the world offend our sensibilities so well.
All of the Game theory, PUA techniques, even feminine-serving appeals to Man-Up! or any other effort designed to help men better mimic or internalize an Alpha behavioral or mind set, all of those efforts’ latent purpose is to return a man back to that primal Alpha energy the five-year-old you had in spades.