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A very interesting paper examines power relations in humans, and in so doing illuminates classic dichotomies between the behaviors of alpha males and beta males. Link.
This article examines how power influences behavior. Elevated power is associated with increased rewards and freedom and thereby activates approach-related tendencies. Reduced power is associated with increased threat, punishment, and social constraint and thereby activates inhibition-related tendencies. The authors derive predictions from recent theorizing about approach and inhibition and review relevant evidence. Specifically, power is associated with (a) positive affect, (b) attention to rewards, (c) automatic information processing, and (d) disinhibited behavior. In contrast, reduced power is associated with (a) negative affect; (b) attention to threat, punishment, others’ interests, and those features of the self that are relevant to others’ goals; (c) controlled information processing; and (d) inhibited social behavior. The potential moderators and consequences of these power-related behavioral patterns are discussed.
If you want to get over Approach Anxiety, feel more powerful. (Likewise, by the transitive property of the behavior-cognition-emotion feedback loops, if you want to feel more powerful, start approaching more girls.) Easier said than done? This is one of those studies where most of the useful gems of knowledge are tucked deep in the paper and only alluded to in the abstract.
Power influences human behavior. When you have it, you act differently, in accordance with the goals of someone who expects deference, gratitude, and reward. When you don’t have it, the world is a frightening place. You act like a trembling field mouse waiting for a hawk to swoop from the air and carry you off.
First, a relevant quote:
The fundamental concept in social science is Power, in the same sense that Energy is the fundamental concept in physics . . . The laws of social dynamics are laws which can only be stated in terms of power. (Russell, 1938, p. 10)
All human interaction can be stripped down to battles for power, on macro and micro levels. Power in this usage means the ability to influence our social environment to our personal advantage. The study authors define power as…
…an individual’s relative capacity to modify others’ states by providing or withholding resources or administering punishments. This capacity is the product of the actual resources and punishments the individual can deliver to others.
Resources and punishments can be material (food, money, economic opportunity, physical harm, or job termination) and social (knowledge, affection, friendship, decision-making opportunities, verbal abuse, or ostracism). The value of resources or punishments reflects other individuals’ dependence on those resources.
The perceived freedom with which individuals can deliver resources and punishments to others also influences the individual’s level of power. Beliefs about the exercise of power figure prominently in cultural values and morals…as well as attitudes within personal relationships. Beliefs about the freedom to exercise power can come into conflict with the actual resources and punishments the individual can deliver to others—a tension that we elaborate on later.
Emphasis mine. Game largely resides in the domain of social resources and punishments, ie mindfucking.
If social status is power, what is status?
Our definition also distinguishes power from related constructs. Status is the outcome of an evaluation of attributes that produces differences in respect and prominence. Status in part determines the allocation of resources within groups and, by implication, each individual’s power. However, it is possible to have power without status (e.g., the corrupt politician) and status without relative power (e.g., a readily identified religious leader in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles). Authority is power that derives from institutionalized roles or arrangements, but power can exist in the absence of formal roles (e.g., within informal groups). Dominance is behavior that has the acquisition of power as its end, yet power can be attained without performing acts of dominance (e.g., leaders who attain their positions through their cooperative and fair-minded style). Thus status, authority, and dominance are all potential determinants of power as we define it.
In seduction, a man’s status, authority, and dominance are each alone highly arousing to women, but together they create the archetypal powerful alpha male which few women can resist. See: our President.
Let’s dig into the relevant meat of the paper that addresses, if obliquely, the power dynamics between alpha and beta males as pertains to pickup and approaching women.
Of the many objects of social attention, we will focus on three: rewards or punishments, other individuals, and the self. We propose that high-power individuals, who are disposed to approach, will attend to potential rewards rather than to threats and as a consequence will construe others through a lens of self-interest. In contrast, low-power individuals will be more sensitive to threats than rewards and will therefore construe themselves vis-a`-vis others’ interests.
Alphas don’t see women as a threat and expect good reactions (rewards) from approaching women, so they feel less inhibited. They are embodiments of male privilege, feeling entitled to rewards from women and seeing them as avenues to fulfill their self-interest. Naturally, women reward these entitled privileged men because women are attracted to confident men.
Betas see every interaction with women as a potential mine field of shame and humiliation and rejection, so they’re more cautious and fearful of approaching women. Betas are also overly empathic and concerned with women’s feelings; they are the opposite of entitled, always assessing their own actions for how they may impact others’ feelings. This is why PUAs say betas “live in their heads” which gets in the way of their romantic success.
A related prediction is that elevated power will increase the tendency to perceive rewards and opportunities in ambiguous acts and interactions (Hypothesis 6). One suggestive line of studies finds that men, who might be assumed to occupy positions of elevated power, perceive sexual interest in women’s ambiguous behavior.
Self-entitled men do better with women because they’re more likely to bust a move, perceiving sexual interest from women where there might not be any. This is an advantageous self-deception because 1. it motivates approaching women which increases his romantic opportunities and 2. it projects supreme self-confidence which is attractive to women.
A complementary prediction is that low-power individuals will perceive themselves as a means to the ends of high-power individuals, or as the instrument of others’ goals and desires. […]
We have posited that high-power individuals selectively attend to rewards and how others satisfy self-interests, whereas low-power individuals attend to punishment and threat and construe the self through a lens of others’ interests.
Alphas are a means to their own ends.
Betas are a means to others’ ends.
This has sexual market implications.
Betas need to be more selfish to succeed at attracting women.
Alphas can become too selfish and sabotage their relationships (platonic and romantic). Often, alphas could benefit from being more selfless.
The approach system modulates processes related to eating, offensive aggression, and sexual behavior. Power should therefore increase the performance of approach related behaviors in these and other domains. Power should prompt the performance of simple approach behaviors (Hypothesis 18), such as entering the social space of others and initiating physical contact. Indeed, high levels of touching behavior correlate with being male, being older, and having higher SES. Studies of adults and children indicate that high-status, powerful individuals are more likely to approach subordinates at interpersonal distances that indicate intimacy.
Game concept vindicated: kino escalation. Get physical sooner rather than later if you want to improve your meet-to-lay ratio with women.
…high-power individuals should be more likely to engage in aggressive acts (Hypothesis 24). Several research literatures lend support to this prediction. Across contexts (e.g., school playgrounds, hospital settings, and summer camps), high-status individuals are more likely to tease (rather than avoid the potentially offensive teasing in the first place), and when they tease, they do so in more hostile ways. In one study of heterosexual and homosexual relationships, the partner who was less committed to the relationship, and therefore more powerful, was more likely to bully the partner.
Bullying is a cue for power. This helps explain why women are attracted to, and stay with, assholes: assholery is a proxy for power, which in a man is a highly attractive trait.
We have not portrayed power in a flattering light. High-power individuals tend to act in ways that disregard conventions, morals, and the effects on others. Yet approach-related behavior can be of a more prosocial nature, and our analysis and the supportive findings of Chen and colleagues (2001) do suggest that high-power individuals will engage in behaviors that violate social norms in prosocial ways. Some of these behaviors include intervening in emergencies or helping others in distress, mediating conflicts, and expressing approval and affection.
I can think of one other, very topical, prosocial way that powerful men violate social norms: speaking ugly truth to globohomo power.
High-need-for-power individuals engaged in profligate gambling, drinking, and sexual licentiousness less often when two kinds of life events enhanced their accountability: having younger siblings and becoming a parent. In fact, the social responsibilities tied to having a younger sibling or being a parent led high-power individuals to engage in more prosocial, approach-related behaviors, such as involvement in voluntary organizations. More generally, we would predict that accountability would lead to less approach-related emotion, more attention to others, and more careful cognition in high-power individuals.
Unsurprisingly to anyone who isn’t a liberal, accountability regulates the expression of power. Relaxing accountability leads to more abuses of power (see for example, the modren American woman).
Accountability is enhanced by younger siblings and parenthood. This should send up a red flag. In European Christendom, White family sizes are shrinking and parenthood is delayed. The consequence will be powerful people expressing their power in less prosocial ways and with more self-gratifying impulsivity.
High-power individuals may be more likely to stereotype others or perceive homogeneity in their social worlds because those with less power inhibit the expression of their actual attitudes.
Weak, spineless soyboys and low value skanky pussyhatters cling to kumbaya universalism because they don’t have the balls nor the smv to express their true feelings.
When do the powerful fall? When their disinhibition becomes pathological:
The very individuals who might keep in check this pattern of [high-power individuals’] behaviors, those with less power, are constrained in thought, word, and action.
This analysis just as readily reveals the conditions for social change: The excesses of powerful leaders—their propensity for disinhibited behavior and stereotypic, error-prone social perceptions—
Virtue signaling leftoid equalists.
are certain to feed into the processes that lead to changes in leadership.
Hello, Deep State!
These speculations make contact with social psychology’s longstanding interest in authority and group dynamics, as seen in Lewin, Lippitt, and White’s (1939) early investigation of authoritarian and egalitarian playgroups; Sherif, Harvey, White, Hood, and Sherif’s (1961) Robbers Cave experiment; Janis’s (1972) discussion of groupthink; and Emerson’s (1962) lasting observation that low-power individuals constrain the actions of high-power individuals by affording them respect and status and thus controlling their public reputation.
Rescinding the respect and status that low-power people accord high-power people will render the latter less powerful. Or, to put it in Heartistian terms, The Mocking Shiv will Save the West.