Quick-change artistry: Masculinity goes from “alpha-male” to “alta-male” inside of a generation.

Alpha-male: Venezuelan actor Alejandro Nones
Alpha-male: Venezuelan/Mexican actor Alejandro Nones

Many people contend that changes in society are driven by many influences – not least movies and music. Certainly, the popular arts reflect the current culture, but they also drive its evolution.

This view was underscored recently in the results of field research conducted by a British- and Singapore-based survey firm Join the Dots for Dennis Publishing, which has just launched Coach, a magazine in the U.K.

The magazine’s audience consists of men who are committed to lifestyles that make themselves “healthier, fitter and happier.”

The research aimed to figure out what are today’s characteristics of being “male.” An in-depth qualitative focus group session with men aged 22 to 60 helped establish the set of questions that was then administered in a quantitative survey of ~1,000 respondents (including some women as well as men) between the ages of 25 and 54 years old.  The survey sample represented a diverse mix of family status, sexual preferences, incomes, professions and interests.

The survey questions focused on the habits and aspirations of men … and the results showed how far we’ve come from the heydays of the “alpha-male” barely 25 years ago.

The researchers contrasted good and not-go-good alpha-male stereotypes (self-absorbed … unwilling or unable to talk about insecurities or vulnerabilities) with a new persona they dubbed the “alta-male.”

The alta-male is a man who values work/life balance and finds personal fulfillment as much in self-improvement as in material wealth.

Additionally, the alta-male tends to reject male role models from earlier generations, instead opting to establish their own identity based on a myriad of diverse influences.

Of course, it’s one thing to aspire to these goals and quite another to actually attain them. The study found that two-thirds of the respondents are finding it difficult to achieve the satisfactory work/life balance they desire.

On the other hand, alta-males tend to be more adaptable, and they’re willing to embrace uncertainty more than the alpha-males of yore.

Even more strongly, alta-males are seekers of experiences, which they value over “mere money” – despite recognizing that it takes money to partake in many such life experiences.

More of an alta-male: American businessman Phillip Nones

Perhaps most surprising, the study found little difference in perspectives between older and younger male respondents.

It turns out that older men are just as likely to have an “alta-male” attitude towards life.  So clearly, the culture has been rubbing off on them, too.

From my own personal standpoint (as someone whose been around the track quite a few times over the decades), I sense a similar shift in my own personal perspectives as well.

What about the rest of you?

One thought on “Quick-change artistry: Masculinity goes from “alpha-male” to “alta-male” inside of a generation.

  1. What seems significant about this is that it takes us back to a significance of being a human being that is rooted beyond numbers.

    Not knowing the survey population criteria, it is difficult to assess what slice of the monery and power pyramid was really included.

    You correctly referred to the potential clash between wanting “a life” and the apparent necessity of financing it.

    The other side of the same coin may be to determine the extent to which “a life” is derived or gleaned from an existing average state of information. What I’m trying to ask is: What possible input do people have today about what “a life” may consist of. I have the strong suspicion that most of what makes up a lifestyle is stuff. Even yoga classes is stuff. When you look at the marketing hype around most everything from silent meditation to the Dalai Lama, from “red tents” to all sorts of what is called “community”, it becomes obvious that the opportunities of unfolding “a life” are generally presented within a limited scope of rather controlled media.

    Why was the population limited in age? Might there be a disillusionment factor at a further progressed age, like all the things money couldn’t buy. And why no late teens who have very little clue about much beyond their 2-1/2 x 5 inch “world”?

    Another thought occurs to me: Why would anyone pay for such a study if there were no profitable applicability? In other words, what the “losers” think is pretty irrelevant for retail expectations.

    None of the above is intended to discredit or discount the actual changes that seem to have occurred between “Father knows best” and today. The sad part in all this may well be that virtually billions of men would be ready to find out how to do “life” but they have no exposure to anything but media, and media has but a single purpose: be a marketing vehicle. We are looking at a perspective made up of four glass walls, a glass ceiling and a glass floor.

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