What guy doesn’t want to be an alpha male? They get all the women, power and money.
But a recent Princeton University study shows that there’s a big price to pay.
The study, released in the journal Science, evaluated 125 baboons over a decade and found that those at the top of the chain had the highest levels of the stress hormones glucocorticoid and testosterone.
Alpha males had the burden of fending off other animals, fighting for and guarding female mates, and providing for the rest of the group. Interestingly, the alpha males had the same stress levels as the lowest-ranking members of the pack, reports the New York Times.
The beta male (or No. 2-ranking primate), on the other hand, didn’t have to work as hard, but still had the opportunity to mate — albeit not with the alpha females, but they got to mate nonetheless. Scientists found their stress levels to be significantly lower.
“What’s cool about this paper is that being an alpha and being a beta are very different experiences physiologically,” Stanford neurobiologist Robert Sapolsky (who has done extensive research on the similarities between baboons and humans, but wasn’t involved in this particular study) told the Times.
Years of stress can have major health affects, and is linked to increased risk for heart disease, cancer and a shorter life span.
Of course, it’s not to say beta males don’t encounter stress — for example, over not being an alpha male.
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