The Warrior Gene – Is Alpha Genetic?

I held off on posting this video because it’s about 45 minutes long and I figured most readers would probably want to watch it at their leisure (rather than on their ‘valuable’ work time), but it’s well worth the investment.

Any time I write about defining Alpha or detail my interpretations of Alpha as a dynamic it’s always cause for heated debate. People are always conflicted on the issues of what biological, attitude or character traits makes a Man Alpha, and as I’ve detailed before there’s always a want to force Alpha into a definition that would best describe ourselves.

Beyond this there’s the question of what makes a Man, naturally (genetically?) an Alpha, and what factors make him a learned Alpha or a contextual Alpha as situations warrant. I’ve covered all of these interpretations in the past year, but it wasn’t until I watched this episode of National Geographic Explorer that I became aware of the concrete genetic evidence of (or at least a genetic indicator) Alpha. I’ll try not to be too much of a spoiler here, because watching this video through a manosphere, Alpha-Beta filter should be enough to give most of my readers a new insight to how Alpha can be defined.

Biological Determinism

For a lot of guys subscribing to the idea that Alpha is built upon manly virtue and noble intent, your first impression of a biological Alpha-determinant will likely be one of disbelief, or incredulity. Watch the video to the end. You’ll probably come up with rationalizations about how a biological predisposition for violence does not an Alpha make, and how humans aren’t slaves to their biology or instinct. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the end of the show.

That said, while watching this here are some things to think about:

  • Is Alpha both nature and nurture?
  • How does this propensity for violence and /or a biologically motivated dynamism agree with our present defining of Alpha?
  • Does an ability, or lack thereof, to channel this natural (genetic) impulse toward constructive or destructive ends change the definition of Alpha?
  • How does the idea of a biologically defined Alpha evolutionarily agree with what we understand about Hypergamy? (War Brides, the attraction of violence, rape fantasy, etc.)
  • Can Alpha be learned and internalized or faked in the long term convincingly?
  • Is genuine Alpha status earned or determined, or perhaps both? (don’t answer until you watch the end of the video)

This study has given me a lot more to think about in terms of how we define Alpha, but it correlates well with my prior Alpha concepts. Alpha is a mindset, not a demographic.

I will do a followup on this post once readers have had the chance to view and opine.

Published by Rollo Tomassi

Author of The Rational Male and The Rational Male, Preventive Medicine

51 comments on “The Warrior Gene – Is Alpha Genetic?

  1. For me, it correlates to a healthy hormone system.

    I coined the term 4H: Hormonally-Healthy Hetero Human.

    As I interact with more people who eat healthy (paleo-inspired.) diets, work out more with weights and play than cardio, avoid hormonal replacements like birth control or even soy foods, etc, I start seeing changes in their lives that almost seems to correlate to Red Pill living.

    I watch a manjawed aggressive woman actually look less masculine and more feminine through pure diet changes over 2 years. She also became much. Ore submissive and lovely.

    I’ve watched guys go from pudgy fat schlubs to muscular inverted pyraminds, and gain the strong jaw line and wide shoulders. This happened to me.

    I see relationships that previously were miserable become happy.

    You can be lucky and be born a 4H. You may be unlucky and be born a weak bodied, feminine voiced, small cock omega, thanks to mom’s bad hormones during pregnancy. But you can probably change this.

    I know fat alphas and I know manjawed feminine natured women, but they are outliers to my (small and mostly anecdotal) data set.

    Something to think about…

  2. Ive got a 50 min layover in Nashville in a few hours, I plan on watching it then.

    Unless there is WiFi on the flight there.

    Wish YouTube had a good Closed Captioning only subsite.

  3. Thought provoking for all of us who have a residual free floating anger. But there is a lot of overlap, it is hard for me at least to associate a lack of impulse control such as rioting because the big team lost/won or stabbing the lead singer in a punk club with any aspect of being a Warrior. All anger is not equal and neither all violence. The people shown in the street and bars were potentially dangerous, but not too scary. Everything about them says they want to start something, but almost certainly aren’t going to carry it through. I got rather the opposite feeling from the men with the Warrior gene, and certainly the biker who was so shot up. I think you could work with them for years without any sign of trouble, but if you want to start, they will absolutely finish it.

  4. Watched the video and it’s not conclusive by any means. Just shows a weak correlation. Interesting though. Like the guy said at the end though, there are thousands of genes all interacting with one another so a single gene might not mean much as far as lifestyle is concerned.

  5. True, but I think it’s an interesting jump off point in that there is at least one recognized biological factor that may contribute to a predilection for violence in men that doesn’t exist for women.

    I would love to see a study done on prison populations and among violent offenders. I think “Alpha” adaptation to environment is certainly a factor, as, apparently, in Rollins’ case, however I’m still convinced there’s also a biological origin. I thought it was funny how the MMA fighters all test negative, yet the monks have the gene.

  6. Rollo Tomassi
    August 20th, 2012 at 12:55 pm
    I thought it was funny how the MMA fighters all test negative, yet the monks have the gene.

    To the contrary, maybe this gene measures integrity? In other words, in which group would it be most difficult to bribe its members out of their prospective vocations?

    “monkin” ain’t easy. (especially when you are on fire)

  7. “As I interact with more people who eat healthy (paleo-inspired.) diets, work out more with weights and play than cardio, avoid hormonal replacements like birth control or even soy foods, etc, I start seeing changes in their lives that almost seems to correlate to Red Pill living.”


    2 years ago, I started eating Paleo and supplementing to naturally increase my available testosterone levels ala Tim Ferriss’ 4 Hour Body (Tripling Your Testosterone Chapter). While I’d always lifted weights before and had been doing martial arts, I noticed a distinct change in my attitude that was remarkably similar to what some of the biker’s described as something bubbling beneath the surface waiting. After experimenting on my n of 1 with upping testosterone for e.g. by eating eggs before bed (since the cholesterol gets converted to available testosterone while sleeping hence morning wood), I’d also note a severely marked increase in impulsiveness and “a wish a muthafucker would say something to me right now” mixed with a primal ass instinct to approach any woman that met the attractiveness threshold without any anxiety.

    With lower testosterone levels came higher levels of anxiety. It was and is a definite inversely proportional relationship. I can literally ‘feel’ a slight burn in the stomach that extends to the chest when at its height.

    Side benefit of becoming consciously aware of it is being able to ‘turn it on’ as needed.

    Is Alpha both nature and nurture?

  8. @kuraje

    For me it is a combination of cardio and weights that makes me edgy.

    I’m a runner who started lifting weights a few years ago.

    When I was both lifting weights and running I experienced the “bubbling under the surface”, and had more confidence and aggression.

    Now that I’ve had to remove the running due to injuries and am getting far less cardio than I was, the weights alone don’t seem to pump up the confidence and aggression anymore.

    Before, having children I believed more in nurture, but when I look at some of the behviours that my youngest son does it all points to nature — something just hard-coded inside.

  9. There is just something that psychologically irks me about raising the bully stereotype to a heroic standard.

    Like Rollins, responding to a bully by attacking him is a surefire way to stop the bullying and to get everyone to leave you alone. But after you vanquish the guy, people don’t rush up to celebrate you and make you their alpha male. They leave you alone and force you to qualify yourself back into some semblance of friendship. People can wield that as a controlling tool forever into the future.

    Whereas the alpha tends to do things that people hate but can’t help but live with. When the alpha wins, everyone wants to buy stuff with his name on it, know all about his social life, and give him attention. Even trying to bully an alpha makes you look insecure and try-hard.

    Here are some of the questions that video raised in my mind:

    Why did Rollins wait to be attacked before responding with violence? Why not ambush one of the kids in secret and feign ignorance? No one would suspect the bullied kid to agressively attack one of the kids. No one would suspect that he is successfully lying to add to his secret.

    How does the dark triad of narcissism, machivellianism, and psychopathy relate to the warrior gene? The dark triad is scientifically correlated with sexual success, not this gene. So arguing over who gets to have the gene with the cool name is kind of pointless.

  10. When I think of Alpha I think of Civil War generals. Do a Google images search for civil war generals. Look at they way they sit, their commanding presence, their penetrating gaze. Then combine that with knowledge of the way they fought, with honor, respect for both friends and enemies. The whole country was Alpha then, and can be again.

  11. I’ll just put this out there now; I definitely see a correlation between the biological influence for violence (feral Alpha) as it relates to a genetic predisposition for it and the feral hypergamic attraction women have for incarcerated killers, Alpha abusers (Bobby Brown?), etc. in women.

    I also think the Navy SEAL turned successful entrepreneur is a good example of how that feral Alpha dynamic can be harnessed to the betterment of the individual and society. Underneath it, Alpha is still Alpha, but the application is what varies. Even the killer gang members turn their destructive application to a constructive application.

    As for Henry’s lack of the gene, I think his owning his Alpha life as part of the persona he’s constructed also speaks volumes to the capacity men have in molding themselves to be (at least more so) Alpha. I don’t think Rollins’ is any less genuine an Alpha for creating himself as one.

  12. Rollo: How does this propensity for violence and /or a biologically motivated dynamism agree with our present defining of Alpha?

    The propensity for violence only loosely correlates to “Alpha” as does dynamism. I thinks it’s important to distinguish traits from rank. Certain traits and behaviors often result in a higher rank but alone do not equate to status.

    Rollo: Does an ability, or lack thereof, to channel this natural (genetic) impulse toward constructive or destructive ends change the definition of Alpha?

    No, rank is self evident. Regardless if boldness (violent or otherwise) is expressed in socially acceptable ways or not, it will often result in elevating a mans rank and sometimes in failure. One thing is certain, no man has ascended in rank without taking risks by being bold.

    There is a tendency to equate aggression with Alpha. It is merely one of many traits that has assisted in elevating status/rank. It’s as useful as it is counterproductive, depending largely on the social context.

    Alpha Markers:

    Status = rank
    Fame = rank
    Wealthy = rank
    Best = rank
    Leader = rank

    Successful (Alpha) traits:

    Rollo: Can Alpha be learned and internalized or faked in the long term convincingly?

    Rank is self evident. Traits can be mimicked and even help produce rank, but absent rank people will spot a fraud. If you are the club owner people expect you to bypass the line. If you pretend to be the owner you may be able to skip ahead until found out. Then you will be regarded as a fool.

    Rollo: Is genuine Alpha status earned or determined, or perhaps both?

    It wouldn’t surprise me at all that genetics help determine traits and otherwise help acquire status. But lets face it, everyone wants to be at the top. Competition will ensure that the formula is continuously refined.

    1. I get what you’re saying about rank, but you also have to consider that what we establish as rank in this era wasn’t the same in past eras. A natural propensity for violence WAS rank in our evolutionary past and thus selected for to the point that a percentage of men (not women) still retain those genetic markers today.

      It could be argued that this gene isn’t a definite determinant of reproductive success, but what we recognize as rank through the ages began from our feral beginnings and the biological vestiges of that evolution are still in us today.

  13. Rollo: “what we establish as rank in this era wasn’t the same in past eras. A natural propensity for violence WAS rank….”

    Totally agree, which is why aggressive traits often acts as an attractant for females. It has become less usefulness lately in attaining rank but I’m confident it will continue to be in the toolbox. We are a competitive, aggressive species. While we may not require bold aggressive heroes at the moment, stay tuned….

  14. Interesting video. I’ve trained state/local law enforcement officers and federal agents for eighteen years now, and I’ve witnessed both extremes of passive and aggressive (from former military to re-formed ‘troubled youth’).

    Interestingly enough, the best officers and agents – meaning those with the highest propensity to endure violent situations from a reactive standpoint and change the dynamic to one of their positively controlling the situation – hailed from BOTH ends of the aforementioned spectrum. When flight or fight took over pursuant to a life or death situation (adrenal dump, elevated BPM’s, auditory exclusion, time distortion, etc.), it all came down to training and the sheer will to survive. So the video correlates… a combination of both nature AND nurture can predict outcomes.

    My evidence is both anecdotal and dataset. Death by gunfire remains the highest cause of mortality by far.

  15. This warrior gene thing is all media hype. See:

    “The abysmal record of behavioral genetics stems from two factors. First, the quest for correlations between thousands of genes and thousands of traits and disorders is prone to false positives, especially when traits are as squishy as “aggression” and “childhood trauma” (the variable that helps some researchers link MAOA-L to violent behavior). Second, the media—including respected scientific journals like Science and PNAS as well as shows like Dr. Phil—are prone to hyping “discoveries” that will attract attention.”

  16. Interesting video although it seemed to me to be heavier on entertainment/production value than the scientific questions/issues.

    I’m not sure what if any meaningful conclusions can be drawn. Based on the video, the connection between the gene and actual violent behavior seemed somewhat random, and to me the connection between “alpha” and proclivity to impulsive violence is somewhat tenuous.

    I’ll be interested to see your thoughts. The test results of the Buddhist monks versus the MMA fighters was quite interesting, and perhaps points to the fact that pragmatically speaking the gene really doesn’t have any meaning.

  17. alpha, beta… seems fairly simple to me. It’s about power and the willingness to use it

    If you have power, physical strength, psychological strength,intelligence, money, influence etc and the will to use it, you are an alpha to some degree and in some area of your life

    If you have those things but elect not to employ them or developed them to any degree; if let life happen to instead of you happening to life…. you’re a beta

    Everything else is mental masturbation

  18. so it comes clear from this documentary that this “warrior gene” it’s a “chopped” piece of a dna string that makes harder for some people to control themselves in specific situations, and you can see some of the toughest guys in the video don’t have it: they can rationally control their actions in most occasions; on the other hand there’s one of the bikers who has this short gene (the fat guy) who states it is hard to him to handle his rage all the time. so i think this is totally unrelated with the alpha/beta (comportamentalism) psychology, because the former it’s all a matter of the body and the latter it’s all about a mindset. you can see the buddist monks in this video, all of them has the shorted dna string, and you can see how their lives are all focused on the effort of keeping control and self-awareness. it’s like some people have to drive a car with loose brakes so they got to learn how to properly control it before they crash. people who have this “warrior gene” can be pretty much beta or lesser since this is unrelated with their learned attitude.
    on the other side i think this does affect in some way the female subconscious and the hypergamy that results, since the desire to be “possesed” (consciously or not) lives in every female brain/fantasy… unless they’re male in famale bodies.
    so alpha can be learned and internalized, and it does happen all the time, it’s not your body (dna) it’s an environment adaptation, and i think it can even be faked for short amounts of time, actually it’s easier to turn back to your alpha state than regress to beta, ’cause to reach the latter most men need a prolonged exposure to will-braking circumstances (ex: LTR). in conclusion genuine alpha status is rather earned than determined.
    well yes alpha is a mindset, not a demographic.

    BTW henry rollins rocks.

  19. the video does not even make the case for a correlation between violent behavior and the shortened allele. The science is not there… sorry. And what’s up with the desire to equate impulsive violence with “alpha”?

  20. A parallel is that alpha in some people is natural and in others it is not.
    It also shows that as humans we are very lucky in that naturally occuring genes aside we can change and adapt if we recognise and choose to do so. It also shows that naturally occuring anything doesn’t mean you can get away with doing nothing to maintain the benefits of the trait/gene – it requires work and thought.
    Game is the process of recognising, understanding and becoming a continued state to achieve what one naturally wants regardless of the luck of the draw in respect to genetics.

  21. And what’s up with the desire to equate impulsive violence with “alpha”?

    This is probably a question better answered by the hordes of devoted female lovers of incarcerated murderers and / or Rihanna.

  22. Rollo, the recent demise of one of the Scott brothers along with this thread put me in mind of Ridley Scott’s “The Duelists” from I believe 1978. While talk of Alpha and Beta was not in the popular lexicon of that time, the film shows 2 fascinating portraits of very different Alpha’s. In the process it poses, or perhaps suggest in that time, the question of who/what is truly Alpha? The congenitally violent or the man who would prevail. If you haven’t seen it check it out, certainly congruent with aspects of this discussion.

  23. I have a fierce temper, and I’ve long said that this can be an advantage. While everyone seems to think that being emotionally immovable is the way to go, my experience is the opposite; balanced intensity is addictive. Intense passionate loving intimacy, and intence fierce anger.

    In my case I’d suspect the hot temper came about from many years of heavy drinking. I heard that’s a common characteristic of a dry drunk. You lose a bit of emotional control and can become a bit of a hot head. In terms of attraction, that seems to only help.

    Sober for over three years now, so if the dry-drunk theory is true, it’s a lasting effect.

  24. I tried to look up info on what’s meant by a “dry drunk”, and only found a bunch of AA psycho babble.

    However there is plenty of research on effects to the brain from alcohol, especially repeated binge drinking. The amygdala is involved. A messed up amygdala also hampers the ability to form long term memories.

    This would seem to be different than the constant burning rage that is described by those with the anger gene variant. Its more like everything can be peachy fine until something sets you off, and then WHAM! From zero to 100 anger. Fierce.

    Now I know a lot of guys can only interpret that as a negative. A lack of control. A sign of weakness even. That’s not how the women seem to interpret it. And although I’m biased, it’s not how I do either. You get used to it, and feel in control. It’s just intense.

  25. Back in the drinking days, sometimes I’d wake up cranky, thinking about some useless shit the girl I was living with had stirred up. I would just rail into her. Just go on and on at her, telling her why she sucked.

    She’d later tell me that she really like it.

  26. I think Xsplat nailed it in a recent post on his blog. It’s about giving a little bit of everything. Throwing the whole cookbook at her. Sometimes you give her the cool as James Bond vibe, then next time you give her rage, passion and intensity. Breaking shit and smashing glasses. Then other times your silent and go ghost. It’s really an ART FORM…. Read xsplat’s blog post, I posted that shit up on my wall… lol

  27. I think the people that produced the vid are sensationalizing the whole thing a bit. “The Warrior Gene”? Spare me. I get that they need to put eyes on the screen, but this is a bit oversold.
    “The Bully Gene” doesn’t even serve it well, because the carriers don’t even show a propensity to instigate. They show a tendency to REACT with violence. I think “The Dickhead Gene” is more appropriate. Maybe “The pain in the ass to deal with gene.”

    The Verdugos were a toss up but I wasn’t surprised by Biker Paul’s lack of carrier status. He seemed way too measured — his stories of violence were in EXTREME situations. The other two bikers that described the “constant urge” seemed like what the doctor described.

    As a tipping point for a “natural alpha” discussion? Eh, sure. It’s probably old news that some are born with an “it” factor, but propensity towards start violence isn’t likely the cue. I mean, how many insecure bullies have we all known that fold when their bluff is called? I firmly believe nurture still dominates.

    How ’bout this for a fascinating psych followup? Evaluate all of tough guys that wanted to have it but didn’t — especially the MMA guys. How many of them lose some of their mental edge? How many go overboard trying to overcompensate? Do the three bikers that might have bowed to Paul previously now strut a little more?

    It’s interesting that so many cats around the various manosphere sites view Alpha / Beta as some binary measure — Yeah or nay / On or off — and ask things like “Is that Beta?” “Is this Alpha?” If you’re sitting around wondering if / hoping you have this magic gene, guess what? Whether you do or not, if you have to ask….

  28. Hehe. There was a time, when all guys were told that trying to be nice, good providers, responsible husbands, etc., gives them women. Those times last few centuries. It failed big time.

    Now we have another lie – it is “alpha” behaviour that gives you pussy. Lill guys are scratching their heads what does it mean to be this “alpha”. You should have this ehm “confidence”, you should have this or that. And women will n o t i c e. We guys are only after LOOKS but women are after..ehm…personality 🙂

    Nothing changed. Men are still BLIND and ruled by their dicks. It is maybe necessary for procreation.

  29. Inconclusive but interesting research. Many of the examples in the video show how even people with the gene have trained themselves to harness its power for good. My take from this is with correct training during early years can bring all the difference.

    Where we have failed in recent years is
    a) Lack of strong male mentors (fathers or otherwise), who are imperative to help teach young men how to control their emotion and channel it in the right direction
    b) Demonizing aggressive sports like boxing, martial arts and even other games like dogdeball, rugby etc by feminists. Being a practitioner of martial arts myself I can vouch that I have found them immensely helpful in learning to handle emotion and staying unfazed while facing a difficult situation.

  30. “Alpha is a mindset, not a demographic.”

    In spite of your stated behaviorist leanings, you’re starting to sound like a cognitivist here.

    (I’d go further though and say that “Alpha is a PsychoNeuroEndocrinological state.”

    I think this is also what A.B Dada is getting at….

  31. This is great, and I think you’re onto something here.

    That said, I’d like to offer some thoughts. The video really hints at a major point: genes are not destiny.

    The reason for this is probably at least twofold: 1) there are probably hundreds (even thousands?) of genes that might participate in the production of a given trait, and 2) external conditions can turn genes on and off.

    Let’s take violence. Yes, a variant of the MAO-A gene is associated with heightened aggression in men. That said,
    so is testosterone. Which one is really driving violent behavior? Neither, in the sense that neither is sufficient to create a violent man. But they both apparently contribute. What’s more, if you want to look at testosterone all by itself, you’ll find that there are many genes that influence serum testosterone, and many ways that external factors like diet and lifestyle effect testosterone directly (not to mention the entire steroidogenesis cascade).

    It gets even more complicated: there are psyho-social influences on gene expression. That is, even if you have some gene that codes for an “alpha” behavior, whether or not that gene gets turned on is also influenced by social and mental factors. This suggests that “alpha” really is contextual, but not just in how social circumstances affect our social standing (vis-à-vis other men) but also biologically; social and mental factors have an effect on our very biology.

    So, to re-frame this somewhat: there are certainly genetic factors that help produce alpha behaviors. But, these are multiple and they themselves can be influenced by external factors like diet, thoughts, and social context.

    The question we might ask ourselves is: how can we hack our biochemistry through diet, mindset, and lifestyle to maximize what “alpha inheritance” we may have received.

  32. The Warrior Gene, when found in women, functions as the “happiness gene.” Research is still ongoing as to why it affects women in such a different way than men. I found this blog when googling research about this topic, since I’ve had DNA tests done and I discovered that I have the Warrior Gene. Men cannot pass on this gene to their sons, but they can pass it on to their daughters. And women always pass on their Warrior Gene (this gene is carried on the X chromosome only).

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