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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. This review revealed 2 predominant alpha female representations in the literature—one more masculine versus one more feminine—and 21 alpha female variables. The measure of masculine traits was identified as the only predictor of alpha female status as per the multiple regression model. Interestingly, both alpha and non-alpha women scored the same for the measure of feminine traits. Further, both groups scored higher for feminine traits than masculine traits. The also revealed that neither social dominance nor sexual dominance were predictors of alpha female status which challenge academic and popularized representations of this identity.
The suggest that although the alpha female is often regarded as an exceptional and, at times, an exoticized form of femininity, like other femininities, her identity is marked by contradictions and tensions. Popularized narratives and discourse within this context rely on analogies between human and primate behavior [ 1 — 4 ], [ 16 ], [ 32 — 36 ]. In the West, alpha women have been described both within the context of masculinity and femininity.
research on the alpha female has categorized women as alpha or non-alpha based on assumed aspects of the identity, such as leadership. This approach however, does not allow insight into our understanding of whether women who are classified as alpha, acknowledge or even occupy the alpha female identity. This examination includes textual and statistical analyses of the qualitative and quantitative data collected from the academic literature, popular media, and most importantly, perspectives of women themselves through focus groups and interviews.
The purpose is to gain a more holistic understanding of alpha female and what if anything, distinguishes her meet dominant females other women. Subsequent research revealed that these relationships were not only orderly, they were also predictable [ 54 ].
Schjelderup-Ebbe [ 55 ] found that chickens interacted with one another in either a dominant or subordinate manner. His observations revealed that only dominants pecked on subordinates, males dominated females, and older chickens dominated younger ones. What is most interesting is that Schjelderup-Ebbe [ 55 ] first described this concept in his work on hens, adult female chickens, in his PhD dissertation in He used Greek letters to denote hierarchy.
Despite this, the focus among social behaviorists has been on the alpha male, perhaps because of the underlying assumption that alpha males tend to dominate not only meet dominant females males, but all females, including the alpha female. According to Schjelderup-Ebbe [ 55 ] the pecking order of chickens and other birds, represented a social system in which some individuals had preferential access to food while others waited their turn.
This idea of pecking order, within which flock members gained access to food was soon generalized to other contexts to reflect power hierarchies existing in other social species including nonhuman primates. The most well-known example of an alpha-driven group in the animal literature is the wolf pack. Schenkel [ 58 ] observed that wolves fought each other to gain dominance and establish order in the group. Social dominance as a form of achieving alpha status, has also been studied extensively by primatologists.
Research has examined alpha male behavior in baboons [ 5960 ], monkeys [ 61 ], and chimpanzees [ 1 ], [ 62 ]. Across the primate literature the alpha male is described as a dominant and aggressive individual with priority meet dominant females to resources and females for reproduction, is considered attractive and desirable by females, and is more sexually active and reproductively successful than his subordinates [ 1 ], [ 21 — 30 ]. Early research on macaques and baboons also emphasized dominance rank as integral to social cohesion [ 65 ].
InSolly Zuckerman [ 66 ] extended the concept of the alpha male and social dominance in his research on captive hamadryas baboons in the London Zoo. He observed that through sexual competition, the strongest male gained primary access to females, food and other resources. Carpenter [ 50 ] also found a positive correlation between rank and sexual activity among communal howler monkeys.
Thus, how the alpha male maintains his social status, differs from species to species. According to de Waal [ 18 ], the term alpha female as it is applied to women, originated from the field of animal behavior, specifically nonhuman primate literature.
In the nonhuman primate literature, the alpha female has been described as behaving both similarly and differently [ 18 ], [ 38 ] than her male counterpart. For example, alpha female apes have been described as rarely showing open rivalry for the top spot. Unlike alpha males who exhibit coercive behaviors [ 38 ], the nonhuman primate alpha female is described as choosing a more cooperative and communal approach to reaching and maintaining her alpha status [ 3 ].
According to Maslowthe techniques and hypotheses that have come from the study of primates, specifically social dominance and dominance rank, including the alpha male or female, can be applied to similar scientific study in humans. InAldous Huxley [ 68 ] wrote his famous work, a popular science fiction novel, Brave New World. Each person occupied a prescribed social position or rank exhibiting behaviors associated only with that rank. Like Schjelderup-Ebbe [ 55 ], Huxley [ 68 ] used the Greek alphabet for the purpose of denoting social rank or position in a social group.
Alphas were ranked the highest followed by Betas, Gammas, Epsilons, and Morons. Similar to what has been observed with nonhuman alpha primates, Huxley [ 68 ] described alphas as having greater access to resources including, money, sex, and recreational drugs.
Although Brave New World [ 68 ] is a work of fiction, linking human behavior and social hierarchy to that of primates runs the risk equating alpha humans and alpha primates. His research was based on in-depth interviews with women and 15 men aged 20—28 years. Maslow [ 69 ] stated that high-dominance women would make great leaders, though not every dominant woman would become one. He also described dominant women high-dominance feeling as rarely embarrassed, self-conscious, shy, or fearful compared to women who were not dominant low-dominance feeling.
The alpha female has often featured prominently in the popular media as a type of female identity [ 71542434570 — 72 ]. It is based on rational, analytical, quantitative thinking, is more aggressive and direct [ 74 ].
Further, these references serve to reinforce traditional Western roles of masculinity and femininity. Though not explicitly stated by Friedan [ 74 ], the inclusion of this interface with Schwartz may suggest that the idea of alphaness, as a male concept, is critical cultural terrain for discussions around gender, nature, leadership, and power.
Chimpanzee Politics [ 1 ], a study of male dominance and reproductive strategies in the Arnhem Chimpanzee colony, has been widely referenced by primatologists in the study of nonhuman primate social behavior [ 75 — 79 ], as well as a much broader audience including politicians and business leaders for the insight it offers into the understanding of human social hierarchy and behavior [ 80 — 82 ].
Applying primate models of behavior to humans in this manner runs the risk of both the misuse of primate studies and simplification of human behavior. For example, inNewt Gingrich then Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives in the United States, placed Chimpanzee Politics [ 1 ] as one of the 25 books on his recommended reading list for incoming young congressional Republicans [ 83 ].
The term alpha male also received notoriety during the US election campaign. However, though she acknowledged that she did mention alpha versus beta males, she did so only in conversation [ 84 ]. This example suggests that the blind application of primate studies to human behavior has the potential to influence meet dominant females institutions, including politics.
What needs to be considered is that such presumptions can impact decision-making, in this case, who one may, or may not vote for. The result, our not-so-real understanding of human behavior can have real impact on social, political, and even economic factors that influence the lives of many. Research on the human alpha female has focused primarily on leadership [ 7810 — 138889 ]. This, as some suggest, has led to a rethinking of gender-role stereotypes in the West [ 710 meet dominant females, 11 ].
Girls who had the highest rank in social groups such as class presidents, captains of basketball teams, and other social group leaders, were identified as alpha. Other alpha-status inclusion criteria included a GPA of 3. According to Kindlon [ 7 ], an alpha girl is an assertive, decisive and a confident female cognizant of her life choices; a person ready to take risks and willing to "transcend the barriers of race and class" p. Kindlon [ 7 ] discusses the emergence of this alpha female identity in the context of the major gains made by women in the West such as the meet dominant females to vote, to make reproductive choices and the right to participate in athletic sports ly not accessible to them.
According to Kindlon [ 7 ] what was most noteworthy in his was that alpha and non-alpha girls were similar in many ways.
Ludeman and Erlandson have studied the concept of the alpha male leader extensively. Their analysis revealed that alpha traits are correlated with being a male who fits into one of 4 alpha groups; 1 commander, 2 visionary, 3 strategist, or 4 executor [ 89 ]. Though the authors did not conduct direct research on the alpha female they state that women possess the same fundamental traits as alpha males [ 89 ]. Incolleagues Rose Marie Ward health psychologistDonald DiPaolo Professor and leadership researcherand Halle Popson health promotionwere the first to conduct research on the alpha female identity.
Their first study was an examination of the alpha female identity as a measure of leadership among 13 undergraduate women at a midwestern university in the United States. Only women who were well-known on campus and held a leadership position in a student organization were recruited. According to Ward et al. The of their study revealed that alpha females come from a nurturing family environment and had role meet dominant females who taught them that being female was either a non-issue or an advantage [ 10 ].
Further, Ward et al. The development of the Alpha Female Inventory or AFI [ 11 ] was guided by the alpha female definition developed in their work. According to the authors, the AFI can be used to identify alpha females [ 11 ]. The authors argue that low levels of introversion are synonymous with being more extroverted, social or outgoing [ 11 ]. The of Ward et al. Though alpha females had higher levels of leadership characteristics and more masculine gender-role characteristics than non-alpha females, there were no differences in self-esteem and emotional intelligence [ 11 ].
The authors did suggest however, that additional research that examines leadership with respect to general dominance measures and determining whether there are more alpha females in college in comparison to the community at large is needed [ 11 ]. Although the composition of the leadership components of the AFI were different than Ward et al.
Recruitment for their study was restricted to women who self-identified as leaders and had a minimum of 10 years of experience in a leadership role [ 13 ]. The 12 women who participated in their study had leadership experience ranging from 10 years to 40 years, held a variety of leadership positions, came from different industries and had different ethnic backgrounds [ 13 ]. All 12 women were self-identified leaders and scored as alpha on Ward et al. Ward et al. It is important to note however, that the underlying assumption of the AFI is that women who are in leadership roles in different contexts are alpha women and as such, the AFI [ 11 ] does not measure the alpha female construct necessarily; it measures female leadership.
These include qualities such as emotional intelligence, masculine and feminine gender-role traits, and self-esteem [ 11 ]. As a result, other forms of the alpha female leader, such as a female model of leadership, may not be easily discernable. Additionally, other characteristics or traits related to the alpha female identity such as dominance sexual and socialcollaboration and affiliation and life-satisfaction that may also contribute to the alpha female construct are not explicitly incorporated in the AFI [ 11 ]. Inclusion of such traits may also contribute to measures such as the AFI [ 11 ] in identification of alpha females.
What may add greater insight is an investigation that examines whether women who identify themselves as alpha female also express the components of the AFI [ 11 ]. An examination of the relationship between self-identification as an alpha female and traits related to the expression of the alpha female identity, including those presented by Ward et al.
In the present study I examine the alpha female as a potential form of female identity and ask women themselves whether they identify as alpha or not. Thus, though self-identification is a different approach from research that has used the AFI [ 11 ] to identify alpha females in different populations and contexts [ 11 — 13 ], this approach offers the opportunity to evaluate the alpha female as potential form of female identity which may also include the expression of traits presented by Ward et al. According to de Waal [ 3 ], several alpha female primate attributes can be applied to alpha women.
He cites age as contributing factor to alpha female status—older women in post-reproductive state such as Indira Gandhi, Angela Merkel, and Margaret Thatcher. His has numerous publications which compare other aspects of primate social behavior to human social behavior such as empathy [ 90 ], morality [ 91 ], conflict resolution [ 92 ], and altruism [ 93 ].
The alpha female has also been described as a femme fatale or vixen, a successful leader, a harlot, a high-heeled powerhouse, intelligent, sophisticated, cut-throat, aggressive, confident and collaborative [ 715424370 — 72 ]. What is interesting about her sexuality is that much of the discourse on the alpha female to date portrays her as heterosexual. The term alpha female also comes up in the bullying literature. Psychologist Dr. According to Littlemore [ 99 ], this type of alpha female is desperate to establish and maintain a role at the top of the social hierarchy. Social Dominance Theory SDTa theory of intergroup relations focused on the maintenance and stability of group-based social hierarchies [ ].
Social Dominance Orientation SDO is a belief system that represents a preference for a hierarchical society in which some groups are more deserving of higher status than others [ ]. The SDOS has been used as a validated measure of social dominance in humans [ 40— ]. Though the SDOS has been predominantly used in research to evaluate discrimination, inequality, and meet dominant females affiliations [ 40— ], it serves as a viable instrument to measure the degree to which women in the present study group, may or may not feel that alpha females as a group, are superior to non-alpha females—whether the alpha female identity is indeed, a value laden-identity.
As such, social dominance orientation may offer partial insight as to what may or may not be at stake for women who do not identify as alpha. The SDOS is used as an index of social dominance in the present research. Prevailing narratives and meet dominant females discourses surrounding the alpha female as an archetype of female identity present her as enigmatic.
To gain insight into this question however, it is necessary to understand how ideas about gender become part of our everyday lived experiences, and this begins with some background on how female identity is socially constructed. Social constructionism theory proposes that everything people come to know or see as reality is partly, if not entirely, socially situated. A social construct is ontologically subjective in that the construction and continued existence of social constructs depend upon the collective agreement, imposition, and acceptance of such constructions [ ].
Perhaps the best meet dominant females is the concept of race. Social constructs shape the way we see ourselves and others [ ]. The idea that the notion of the alpha female as a socially constructed identity therefore, does not diminish its sense of reality.
A social constructivist approach therefore, lends itself to examination of meet dominant females alpha female identity. When it comes to the alpha female and gender however, it gets a little more complicated. Both these terms are used interchangeably in popular and academic courses and predominantly refer to women who are born biologically female and exclusively heterosexual. Academic and popular discourses surrounding the alpha female identity largely reference characteristics or traits that are based on traditional gender roles of males and females in Western society.Meet dominant females
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Women like dominant men, men like submissive women: Study