Today someone asked in a Facebook group whether INFJ men can be “Alpha”, and that immediately led to a big discussion on what it means to be “Alpha” and how that relates to MBTI types.
Almost everyone in the Western world has some kind of notion of what it means to be an “Alpha”. Or rather, everyone has heard of it, but in light of our current “Gender politics”, many claim that the concept never existed in the first place or has become obsolete, because it is founded on a flawed study on wolves and their group dynamics.
Even if we live in a world that is more accepting of men expressing sensitive emotions and women being more assertive, and even though the study was flawed, that doesn’t mean that the concept of an “Alpha” has disappeared from our collective consciousness, nor that there are no differences amongst people, in this case men, when it comes to their levels of dominance, assertiveness, masculinity and so forth – traits associated with being “Alpha”.
In that light, it is quite possible to assess the MBTI types based on how well they fit into the “Alpha” mould. “Alpha” is just a codeword for strong masculinity. The more masculine, the more “Alpha” you are.
There are different interpretations of masculinity, but it could be safe to assume that they have their roots in male biology, especially the hormone testosterone. Though of course women can also be (relatively) more masculine (have more testosterone, or merely more behaviorism associated with higher testosterone) than other women. The assessment of how masculine you are should be in relation to other people of your own sex.
Besides that, our gender roles seem to point at Thinking men being regarded as more Alpha than Feeler men. It could simply have something to do with most men being Thinkers, and most women being Feelers; and that’s how the gender roles have come to be. Perhaps people with higher levels of testosterone develop a Thinking preference over a Feeling one, but that is just speculation for now.
We conclude that salivary testosterone is consistently and positively related to extraversion, supporting the notion of a hormonal basis of this personality trait, which may be linked to the tendency to strive for and maintain social status.
- Extroverted Sensing, and to a lesser extent Extroverted Intuition
At the least, high-T males have been “blessed”–or (ahem)–“cursed” with the raw energy to do things to the extreme. And so they’re naturally at risk of abusing this energy in potentially dangerous ways. As one study has noted, “those with higher levels of testosterone are more inclined to smoke, drink alcohol excessively and indulge in risky behavior that leads to injury.”
Complementing this tendency to be imprudent, rash, or even reckless, are a variety of research findings indicating that high-testosterone males are more likely to be impulsive, impatient, unreliable, and (as Dabbs describes it) “single-minded to the point of obsessiveness.” By nature leaning–competitively or confrontationally–toward raucous or rugged physical activities, they frequently don’t perform well academically. And (no surprise) in school one of their problems is that they may not deal very well with intellectual complexities.
As Dabbs bluntly puts it, high-T males can be “rough and callous.” Their more tender feelings literally “blunted” by elevated testosterone levels, they tend not to be particularly concerned about–or, for that matter, interested in–the feelings of others. And unmoderated feelings such as lust, resentment, or rage can easily preempt the softer feelings of love, compassion, or forgiveness.
- Extroverted Thinking
Moreover, as the literature on high-T males attests, dominant individuals also tend to be extremely competitive, and are frequently “endowed” with what’s commonly known as the “killer instinct.” In sports, such a trait can, frankly, be quite useful. [This is closely associated with Extroverted Sensing, see above.] And in business, too, it can be pragmatic–in cutthroat businesses, it’s undeniably an asset, and may actually be essential.
Following the above, the most masculine aka “Alpha” MBTI type would have to be an ESTP.
Other types that can be more Alpha: ESTJ, ENTJ with stronger Te, ESFP with stronger Se, ISTP with stronger Se, ENTP with stronger Ti, ISTJ with stronger Te.
Having said that, what makes someone more “Alpha” can also be related to social status and success; and those things can be obtained no matter what your MBTI type is. In the eyes of society, most celebrities would be considered Alpha in some way due to their popularity, fame, status, and success; even though their personality itself might not be that stereotypically masculine or testosterone-driven.
All in all, strictly speaking Alpha INFJ men do not truly exist (if you only account for the personality traits themselves). If you want an Alpha mate, you should look out for an ESTP or ESTJ. However, as you may have gathered already, mates with high testosterone or very masculine behavior can be rather difficult to deal with. So, choose wisely. 😉
If you want to read more about masculinity and femininity, check out my article on the matter in relation to the Enneagram types here.