A battle for control and power among the male personalities plays out nowhere more than between the alpha male and the sigma. While the dominant alpha wants the recognition of his status from everyone around him, the sigma male, or lone wolf, answers to no one. So who is the most masculine, and who should you become or align yourself to? The Alpha Male vs. the Sigma Male.
The male socio-sexual hierarchy is the pyramid of male personality types, from Alpha to Omega. Everyone has always accepted that the alpha male’s rightful position was on top, above the six other male personalities. But what if we were wrong? Does the top spot really belong to the Sigma male?
What is a Sigma Male
The Sigma male is a type of male personality most often compared to a lone wolf. They follow the Sigma male rules, despite not following any rules but their own!
The mysterious stranger keeps to himself, but you can’t help but be intrigued about him. He’s the guy who doesn’t show off or try to get your attention but is still absolutely captivating. He doesn’t care what others think and doesn’t seek out recognition. He answers to no one but himself.
For many years everyone assumed that the alpha, at the top of the hierarchy, was the male men wanted to be, and women wanted to be with. But it turns out there may be a new king to rule them all, but like most great kings, he doesn’t want the throne.
What is an Alpha Male?
An alpha male is at the top of the socio-sexual hierarchy; he stands ahead of all the other males. He is the sheriff, while the Sigma is the lone cowboy. Some say that a sigma male could dominate an alpha if he wanted to. Here is the order of the rest of the hierarchy
I’ve left the Sigma male out because he doesn’t fit anywhere in the hierarchy.
The alpha male has a big powerful personality. He likes to be in the spotlight and in charge. We’ve all met men like this; often, they have a few friends or colleagues (the beta males) who follow them around and try to stay on their good side.
Alpha males produce fear in lesser men. Their size and assertive personalities make them difficult to challenge or disobey. But alpha males aren’t necessarily bullies. They can be good strong men who make powerful leaders and guide others toward success.
Differences Between an Alpha and Sigma Male Characteristics
Introvert vs. Extrovert
The most significant difference between the alpha and sigma males is that they live on two different ends of the extroversion scale. While the alpha male is highly extroverted, the sigma male tends to be introverted or an ambivert, perhaps landing near the extroverted introvert side of the scale.
This means that alpha males get more energy from social interaction with others while it drains the sigma male. Although typically, a Sigma male isn’t highly introverted, they are close to the center of the scale, so they can still perform well at social events. However, they need time to recover and recharge afterward; time alone energizes Sigmas.
Alone vs. the Group
It isn’t only that alphas and sigmas gain energy from different places; they even have power from two places.
The power of an alpha male comes from his ability to dominate other men and make them do his bidding. The beta males who are desperate for the approval of a powerful alpha will do anything the alpha asks to try to curry favor.
On the other hand, the power of a sigma male comes from his ability to work efficiently alone. To boost productivity, he employs people or delegates to those around him. This allows him to stay focused on making good high-level decisions. Keeping him in control and making progress.
Non-Conforming vs. Conforming
An alpha male needs those around him to kowtow to his dominance; he isn’t really on top without any beneath him. The way alphas maintain the acceptance of others is by conforming to societal norms. If big trucks are for big men, the alpha male will buy the biggest. He needs to represent who he is for all to see.
Sigma males, by contrast, don’t need the approval of anyone, so they ignore social norms and do whatever they want. If they decide that a big pickup truck is what they need, they’ll buy one, but it’s not because they’re popular. If he decides that a motorcycle or electric car is for him, that’s what he’ll get.
Some male types, such as the gamma and zeta males, don’t follow society’s rules but purposefully choose to do the opposite of society’s expectations. The Sigma male is different, however, because he isn’t trying to non-conform (like the gammas and zetas); he just is who he is.
Egotistical vs. Selfless
Whether someone is selfish or selfless isn’t a sign of their place in the socio-sexual hierarchy. You can have self-centered alpha males and selfless ones, and it’s the same for Sigma males. However, people’s perceptions of them are different. Because alpha males like to stay in the spotlight and want the attention of everyone around them, they can come off as selfish.
Sigma males, in contrast, come off as selfless because they don’t fight for your attention.
Focused and Efficient vs. Overwhelmed but Holding On
With all the free time a sigma male has compared to the alpha male, he can get much more work done, so you will often find sigma males at the top of the industry.
Alpha males are also natural leaders, but their preference to be seen getting their hands dirty among everyone else means that they have less time to strategize and make the best decisions for the company; often, they will hire consultants or employee beta males types to do this for them.
The alpha male might give up power to maintain the illusion of control, whereas the sigma is in control and doesn’t care what anyone thinks about him.
Adaptable vs. Strong and Stable
The alpha male’s power comes from his stability. Because alpha males have to rely on others so much to get things done, they can’t change their minds every day. It would be too disorienting for those working under him. But the sigma male doesn’t have the burden of responsibility. He works alone.
Sigma types that do run large companies keep their flexible and adaptable nature, which may cause trouble for employees and even customers. Elon Musk is a good example. While an alpha male would have kept the stability of Twitter and perhaps made changes slowly over time, Elon saw an issue and corrected it, not caring about the consequences.
Sigma males are not people focused, they want results, and they don’t care what they have to do to get them. Alpha males, on the other hand, must take other people into account. Maintaining good relationships is often more important to alphas than the outcome.
Examples of Alpha Males
Strong, charismatic, and charming are some of the most common attributes associated with alpha males. Do you see these alpha traits in these three masculine men?
- Tom Cruise
- Arnold Schwarzenegger
- Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
Examples of Sigma Males
He is dedicated, focused, and willing to die for what he thinks is right. These are all common sigma traits or characteristics. Are these the men you think of when you read these qualities?
- Elon Musk
- Brad Pitt in Fight Club
- James Bond
- Clint Eastwood in “Man with No Name”
Can You Become an Alpha or Sigma Male?
So now you know the differences between these two kinds of men and can tell them apart, you might be wondering if you can change your personality type.
The Big Five Personality Test is a good place to start. Get a result with your personality over the five main aspects:
Then decide which personality you are better suited to based on the results. Start with extroversion, as it might be the hardest part of your personality to adapt.
- If you’re high in extroversion, becoming an alpha male will be easier. If you’re introverted or an introverted extrovert, becoming a sigma male may be possible for you.
- Both sigmas and alphas can be high in trait openness, although it may be more extreme in sigma males, who are much more open to new ideas.
- Sigmas are generally higher in conscientiousness, which means they are willing to work harder. If you’re low in this quality, becoming an alpha may be a challenge, but if you can convince others to work for you, you might be a natural alpha male.
- Sigmas tend to have very low agreeableness. They really don’t care what you think. Alphas are also likely to be disagreeable but perhaps not as low as the sigmas.
- Alpha males show extremely low levels of neuroticism, which is a measure of how affected they are by negative emotions. Being introverts, sigmas may test higher here.
Originally from the U.K, Greg has lived in Asia for over 15 years. Fluent in a handful of languages, he ran a management consultancy before creating Face Dragons. He spends his time now traveling around Asia, writing, taking photos, and drinking coffee.