People Are Using Term ‘Alpha Male‘ Wrong: Scientist Who Helped Popularize the Label Explains Why

People Are Using Term ‘Alpha Male‘ Wrong: Scientist Who Helped Popularize the Label Explains Why

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Sign up By , Christian Post Contributor | Jun 28, 2018 11:46 AM

Bring up the term “Alpha Male,” and what usually comes to mind for most people is an intimidating leader, strong and perhaps a bit domineering. While some would even extend it to men who would bully and loom over others, it‘s not the original meaning of the label, according to a primatologist who helped popularize the term.

Frans de Waal, a scientist who studied primate social behavior and helped come up with the term “alpha male” in the 1980s, recently took the time  to clarify what the label really means.

Pixabay/12019In a recent TED talk, a primatologist explained how the popular perception of “alpha males” as brutish, harsh leaders is not exactly accurate.

In his research on chimpanzee behavior, “alpha male” was a term that has layers of nuance to it, and not just a general-purpose term for men who bully, intimidate and even harass their way to the top.

“I am actually partly responsible for the term alpha male because I wrote this book ‘Chimpanzee Politics,‘ which was recommended by Newt Gingrich to freshmen congressmen,” de Waal began, as .

In fact, Alpha Males in the original sense of the term turned out to be more in touch with their sensitive side than what is now commonly thought. The same goes for the reverse — just because a man can overwhelm his peers does not mean he‘s an Alpha, either.

“Someone who is big and strong and intimidates and insults everyone is not necessarily an alpha male,” de Waal explained, adding that the Alpha chimps in his original study got to the top by also being good at winning over the pack with displays of kindness and love.

Alpha male chimps would tickle babies, share food, and interact with others such that they come to respect and rely on him, which in turn, ensures the Alpha‘s position at the top.

“The smallest male, if he has the right friends and keeps them happy, or he has female support, he can be the alpha male,” de Waal emphasized.

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