Friday, May 29, 2009

Rank beats Position

The most attractive quality in a man is power.
The ability to influence the world around you to your liking.
The means to create an environment that suits your will.
That is what women select for in men.

Women lust for men who have a vision and the talent to create for themselves a live they deem worth living.

There is something deeply sexual to a woman about a man who knows what he wants and has got what it takes to get it.

All the characteristics of a human "alpha male" fall under this category. Women and men are attracted to these character traits.

As a result, high status males earn respect from both genders. And since these men further gain determination, assertiveness and confidence from their urge of realizing their goals, they will rise up in the social hierarchy and make recruit others to help them realize their dream.

This differentiates human alpha males from other species where rank in social hierarchies is often determined by brute force only. The result, however, is the same:

Alpha individuals are the ones with the highest social status.
(They are the socially most successful individuals, which includes mating frequency)

The trouble comes with the definition of social status. In particular for human societies there are two aspects of status/rank/social hierarchy that often get confused.

Humans tend to create social hierarchies or power structures that are highly institutionalized. As soon as a group reaches a certain size (more about that another time), we seem to move away from primal instinct and replace gut feeling with a fixed set of rules to determine rank. In other words, while a group of 5 people at a bar will rank each other by means of body language and other (mostly unconscious), this does not seem to work anymore for a company of several thousand employees, a sports club, a town or a whole country.

And while you would expect the same type of people succeed in larger social structures who dominate late night conversations at bars, we all know that is not the case. The reason for that is that you can climb up the social latter by means of inheritance, education or other rare skill, age and other factors that do not matter for most inter-individual interactions.

People get promoted after being at a company for a certain amount of time, and not (always) for their masculine traits. As a result there is a schism between a guy's social rank in terms of his position (his "prestige") and the rank he takes in whenever he interacts with other people (his natural "dominance").
[Note: Dominant men tend to make better careers, so while these two types of social status are dissociable, they typically correlate.]

So, if these factors are separable, which one is more important when it comes down to sex?
Is it the "house, the horse, the car" or "the cool appearance, the firm handshake, the unwavering eye"?

To answer the question one has to keep in mind that the female brain evolved long before there were sports cars, cigars and Brioni suits - let alone money. And while it is hard for a socially submissive beta guy to hide the many telltale signs of his insecurities (given that most of that gets communicated through unconscious body language), it is easy to fake success by lending money, suits or cars.

Accordingly, what women look (select) for in men is potential more than actual success. Women seek out men who have a set of character traits (such as being assertive, confident and domineering) which increase their chances at climbing up the social latter.

Rank beats position. It is not the wealth, title or position, but the "interpersonal power of men that makes them sexy". Hence, even the wives of the world's richest men like to bang guys in a cheap Holiday Inn. Another mystery of the world explained.


  1. the only catch is, for the man who fakes it with money, car, and house...he will inevitably attract a woman who will dominate his life, probably ruin it, and rape him in divorce.....for all this faking it, he is eventually exposed as an incredibly painful price....or she resents him for his weakness and he is browbeated for a lifetime and granted servitude and chains which sit upon his shoulders for decades.

  2. you have a point. but i suspect there are several wrinkles to this.

    i wonder if the term "interpersonal dominance" would be better than "rank" (rank, like position, could refer to a large orginization).

    but then i also wonder if "interpersonal dominance" is really the key all by itself. imagine a naturally dominant guy ("high-status player and "status specialist" in johnstone's terminology) who is not high status in the larger group: not optimally sexy. imagine an "status expert" (johnstone) who charmingly changes roles, playing low-status in a nonsupplicating and non-fear-driven way (e.g. selective self deprecation) to make others feel at ease, and has social influence as well as high status in the larger group: much sexier.

    i think it's actually looking influential in your social context that is key. in some contexts this is virtually impossible to fake completely (e.g. science). then it's also key to not be a compulsive low-status player when you actually have high status, but to take your natural place and perhaps play it up a little as part of the game.

  3. oh, and for the post about that moment of desperation where the club/bar/social gathering shifts to desperation mode: here it is from Trainspotting:

  4. but then i also wonder if "interpersonal dominance" is really the key all by itself.
    I think you got a point there. It is not about the actual power displayed but more the skill that might lead up to/enable it. See today's post.

  5. There is something deeply sexual to a woman about a man who knows what he wants and has got what it takes to get it.

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