Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Putting alphaness in context

In the previous post where a GSS question measuring how willing male respondents were to suffer in the stead of a lover was used as a proxy for alphaness, Jason Malloy exploded in the discussion thread (to reiterate, everything he writes is worth reading, so do so if you have not yet to). Both he and n/a of RHE Notes take issue with the characterization of black men skewing more alpha than white men do. Jason writes:

The "Alpha" label seems to be applied primarily (in Internet parlance) to men who have promiscuous sex with many attractive women, or simply to men with high mate value.

This is where you are running into trouble AE. Black men in America are not "Alphas". They do not have superior mate value, or have sex with the most attractive women. But they are cads compared with white, Asian or Hispanic guys.
They put the most effort into mating effort over paternal investment.
And n/a:
The key defining characteristic of the "alpha male" is either:

(1) high social status, or
(2) high attractiveness to women.

You are attempting to show black males possess certain mental traits supposedly associated with "alphaness", but we can directly observe:

(1) Black men have lower social status than white men.
(2) Black men are less attractive to white women (that is, the majority of women in the U.S.) than white men.

Therefore, black men obviously can't be more "alpha" than white men in any meaningful sense.
I am working under the assumption that possessing alphaness and possessing game are basically the same thing. Part of this is unmalleable for all practical purposes (facial symmetry and features, hair quality, height, voice inflection), part is malleable over the relatively long-term (upper body muscle mass, socioeconomic status, social prestige), and part is potentially alterable immediately (hygiene, dress, body language, word choice). While personality mostly falls in the first category, Roissy's intellectual work flourishes on the presumption that it's possible for men to train themselves to put forth a more attractive persona by saying, doing, and thinking in a manner similiar to what is suggested in his posts (to put a Big 5 spin on it, specific ways of lowering agreeableness and increasing extraversion and stability are offered).

I agree that all of the variables above enter into the attractiveness equation, and that the tactics Roissy describes to optimize the immediately alterable category positively effect the resulting value, at least for short-term hookups and probably in general. My skepticism is over the presumed degree of value added. Humans have experienced hundreds of thousands of years of sexual selection pressures for acute perception of genuine attractiveness. It's not easy to fake. Most betas won't be able to act like alphas, and to the extent they do, will experience cognitive dissonance and social discomfort. I find flummoxing the argument that game, pickup artistry, and the alpha/beta dichotomy serve the cause of more HBD realism--their effectiveness is much more credulous under blank slatism.

The alphaness I've attempted to gauge in the two previous posts, however, is really just a subset of overall male attractiveness--the subset of attributes that are immediately alterable. If black men are relatively stronger here than white men are--and I think that is the case--that they are less attractive in totality is not the point. To measure this alpha subset, we ideally need to control for everything else (intelligence, wealth, physical attractiveness, social prestige, etc).

Operating on the framework Jason utilizes, the question is over who has a relative advantage in the immediately alterable subset--who treats women the most like Roissy and other PUAs do?--not who has an absolute advantage in attractiveness to females. I am not aware of anyone arguing that being a standard deviation below the average height, being overweight, having emaciated arms, being impoverished, having an unskilled job, or having a contorted face is more attractive than each of these attribute's opposites are. It's the stuff that any guy is theoretically able to change--what he says, how he responds to what she says, the amount of confidence and decisiveness he exudes--that is at issue.

The problem here is that there are apparently not any useful ways of quantifiably measuring this alpha subset ceteris paribus. We can look at things like sexual behaviors and changes in sexual behavior over time to empirically delegitimize the hysteria over putatively wildly changing sexual norms occuring at a societal level or to compare various groups of people, but it doesn't provide a window into perceived level of attractiveness, or how certain behaviors increase or decrease it. This allows Roissy to potentially oversell* his advice--it's all based on anecdote and is empirically unverifiable. This program really works! Jarid was out of work but now he makes $40,000 a month working two hours a day from the comfort of his own home!

* I'm aware of the irony in this word choice, since Roissy produces without compensation. My purpose is not to impugn him or his motives, which, strange though it may sound, seem to be altruistic (how that fits into being the ultimate alpha is another subject!)

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blacks got tha big dicks. True or not, this is what we're led to believe. You can't address racial sexual disparities without considering this factor.

Jokah Macpherson said...

How do you think Vivi was able to reproduce so much so quickly? He started dressing real nice, adopted a dominant but carefree posture, and generally began acting more Zidane-like. Then again, he was a BLACK mage, so it came pretty naturally to him once he gave it a try.

Anonymous said...

Alphaness and Betaness are not purely a function of your real mate value, but rather a function of the strategy you choose to employ.

I do research in social psychology, much of it on self-esteem and identity. People with exceedingly high-self esteem often are disconnected with reality. Their self-esteem is more about their strategy for securing a place in the group than trying to find out the truth about what people think about them, or discovering (or displaying) real mate value. One doesn't even consciously need to know what strategy one is employing for it to work, and perhaps it's better for the bold to not know, to keep up the illusion.
That said, consider that black people generally over-state their abilities on any self-report measure, no matter what it is. Blacks will very, very rarely offer an apology without an equivocation or a qualification.
Overstating your real-mate value is the essence of alphaness.

Audacious Epigone said...

Jokah,

Haha, it's very rare when I actual laugh out loud in reaction to something I read. This is one of those times.

"Overstating your real-mate value is the essence of alphaness."

That's the pithiest yet still satisfactory summation I've come across so far. Thanks.

Thursday said...

My skepticism is over the presumed degree of value added. Humans have experienced hundreds of thousands of years of sexual selection pressures for acute perception of genuine attractiveness. It's not easy to fake.

First of all, psychosocial dominance is the most important factor in what makes a man attractive to women. Second, you are right in that the ability to learn game is not uniformly distributed among the population. Learning this stuff requires that you already have intelligence, some degree of social intuition, and a good work ethic. However, it is just a fact that some guys are seriously underperforming in this area and they can have radical changes in how well they do by learning game. A good analogy might be quarterbacks like Kurt Warner or Steve Young obviously had a lot of natural talent, but who struggled at the beginning of their careers. Their greatness wasn't apparent right at the beginning and it took some hard work, study, training and experience for their full potential to emerge.

Thursday said...

Similarly, everyone can improve their athletic skills with study, hard work and practice. But those with the most intelligence and natural talent will improve the most.

Thursday said...

I would point out to Jason that Roissy is quite clear that according to his definition, an alpha is someone with high mate value, that is someone who could be a player. However, because men will tend to take advantage of their high mate value, he has said that the two groups are almost indistinguishable. I don't think he is entirely correct on that last point, which can lead to confusion, but for obvious reasons there is significant overlap.

I think you are quite right to criticize the conflation of cads with those who have high mate value. Again, though, some of the confusion arises because there is some overlap: you do need at least some mate value to be a cad.

Audacious Epigone said...

Thursday,

The athletic analogy is a good one. It can similarly be made in understanding the nature of intelligence.

I don't disagree with any of your points, but Kurt Warner was naturally good enough to play arena football and be signed by the Packers, and Steve Young was drafted by the Bucs before playing behind Montana. Their progressions appear radically transformative given the caliber and competition present of the NFL, but objectively that kind of growth isn't enormous.

Finishing the analogy, that's how I see gaming techniques--they have the potential to bump the average guy up half a point or so (I think Roissy concedes as much).

Eileen said...

Most betas won't be able to act like alphas, and to the extent they do, will experience cognitive dissonance and social discomfort.

THANK you!

My purpose is not to impugn him or his motives, which, strange though it may sound, seem to be altruistic....

Roissy's motives are not altruistic. First of all, he gains status by positioning himself as a Game expert/guru. But, secondly -- and more interestingly -- by advising so-called betas to act like an "alpha", he most likely reduces their chances of getting the girl.

Like you say above, betas will experience cognitive dissonance and social discomfort when they try to apply Game -- and these feelings are going to be glaringly obvious to whatever women they're trying to Game. They're going to appear even less attractive than they would've otherwise.

No, Roissy's motivations are not altrustic. His advice will probably aid some fellow cads who are not quite as socially savy as himself; but his advice will just hurt the chances of betas. He is probably not conscious of this, but you never know.

Anonymous said...

roissy fans, here's who youve been taking advice from.

http://ladyraine.wordpress.com/2009/11/23/exposed-roissy-in-dc/

http://ladyraine.wordpress.com/2009/12/05/roissy-in-dc-update/

(he's 41 btw.)