Ever since Vox articulated his socio-sexual hierarchy I have been very interested in idea of a second dominant type, the sigma. For some reason I found the idea more attractive as an ideal than the more common alpha type. Initially it also seemed to be a genuinely original idea, though as I considered it I realized that without ever explicitly naming the concept, writers have instinctively acknowledged the second dominant type. Vox's hierarchy was simply the first to give it a name within the discussion of game.
There were however some problems. Since the discussion of game frequently revolves around the practical application of theoretical ideas, sigma seemed out of place. There was little discussion of how to emulate the sigma type, and so it had little significance beyond theory. By Vox's own admission the emulation of one of the significant traits, indifference, is nearly impossible to fake. In addition it was frequently misunderstood, which led to broad mockery of anyone who claimed this rare status. Eventually, most readers, including myself, seem to have gained an intuitive understanding of the idea, which led to some interesting discussions, but unfortunately there was still little talk of practical application. To be fair, Vox's reasons for coming up with the idea seem to be mostly theoretical. However I have always hoped for more than just theory.
The cause of these problems seems to be the lack of a precise definition. Intuitive understanding is certainly useful, but I find that once something has been defined clearly, it is much easier to discuss and the conversation tends to be more fruitful. To this end I have developed a possible working definition.
Recently I have been reading a great deal about introverts and their temperaments. The article Caring for Your Introvert, by Jonathan Rausch which seems to have generated some discussion on the Internet, has explained some of the more common traits that introverts display. This was the first article that got me to think about the relationship of game to introversion and extroversion, but the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain, was what led me to what I find to be a very useful definition of the sigma type.
Both works describe introversion, but Quiet offers much more insight. The book describes the traits that make up introversion, but more importantly, explains why those traits exist in the first place. For example, one of these traits is a general sensitivity to novelty and stimulus. In one of the cited studies, scientists found that babies who are more reactive (cry more) when startled tended to grow into more introverted adults. The converse was also true, in that less reactive babies grew into extroverts. This reactive tendency was found to be related to heightened activation in amygdala, the part of the brain correlated to emotions like fear and anger. Another trait was a reduced sensitivity to the pleasure chemical dopamine. This was correlated to fewer risk taking behaviors and an increase in caution. Other traits included the ability to concentrate on personal projects for a longer amount of time, a different style of leadership, a desire for deep conversation about subjects important to the introvert, desire for limited social interaction, and a preference to observe before jumping into social situations. All of these traits when combined with ALPHA dominance look remarkably like a theoretical sigma.
Now, it would be great to have a large number of verifiable sigmas in the same place to observe their behavior, but since they are rare and, by definition, solitary, I will have to justify my idea based on Vox's self-description and self identification as an introvert.
If I recall correctly, Vox once said that he “has the boundaries of a Rancor”, and the way he manages both his blogs and the debates therein supports this statement. As an introverted omega I have only recently begun to understand the significance of personal boundaries. Without personal boundaries, I used to worry about what everyone was thinking, since if they did not like me I could be subjected to mockery and ridicule, which as a high reactive introvert was extremely painful. As I have developed boundaries I have found that they are an antidote to this pain. In fact as they get thicker, I care less and less about what others think, because what they think can no longer hurt me. At the extreme of this I doubt that I will care about anyone's opinion. If dominance is about pursuing what you want, without apology, and introverts find others to be painfully overstimulating, then I can very easily imagine that one thing very introverted, dominant man instinctively desires is to be LEFT. THE. FUCK. ALONE.
For your consideration:
Vox has also said that he responds to interruption with unmitigated hostility. Introverts tend to prefer long and deep conversations about subjects that are important to them. Combine that with the ability to get people to do what you say, without apology, and you have a person who is not going tolerate interruption from a vapid extroverted female who thinks that it is okay to interrupt an important, enjoyable conversation.
On the subject of not caring what others think, introverts like to focus on important personal projects. They have great powers of concentration and memorization, and can study the same subject for years on end. Vox's ongoing interest in economics is an example of this. Now if you read with that degree of depth for that long, there are going to be very few people who will be able to keep up with you when you are discussing that subject. As someone who has this trait even I have a hard time taking someone seriously when they say something verifiably wrong, and refuses to change their stance. Intellectual contempt for other people's opinions must be like breathing for a sigma.
An increased sense of empathy is another introverted trait. This is caused by introvert's general over sensitivity. Personally I find this to be a nuisance. When you cannot help but feel bad for a person, even if their pain is self inflicted, your judgment tends to be poor. You want them to not feel bad, since their feelings are making you feel bad, and so you act in ways that lack self respect. In some cases empathy feels like drinking from a fire hose. I used to feel very afraid whenever anyone merely looked angry. As I have developed boundaries, this empathy is slowly decreasing. I suspect that as it gets stronger it will be much easier to not be afraid of other's emotions, since their emotions will have less effect on me. Vox has said that he is not afraid of others emotions. I really hope that I will get that far.
Finally the most obvious aspect of a sigma is that he is an outsider. I can easily imagine an dominant introvert seeking solitude. I know that reading about introversion has made me much more comfortable with seeking solitude. I have no desire to climb the social ladder and enter into the inner circle. I recognize that it may be necessary but if I do seek social situations it will be for my own reasons. Social skills are a means, not an end. Vox has said many times that he has no desire to lead, and I doubt there are many people he would follow. He seeks outsider status. Now, I suspect that an over abundance of ALPHA traits does allow for what I would call horizontal social mobility, which is the ability to succeed in social situations without trying. If you are dominant enough, people will naturally want you to lead and you will be pushed inward toward the center of most social circles. The world will be your oyster, just as it would be for an alpha. But a true sigma will have his own agenda, and will actively resist the efforts of extroverted others to recruit him. He will not care for leadership or the roles that others place him in. A sigma will choose solitude, because it fits his introverted nature. He will choose to be an outsider, because it makes him happy. And if game is about anything, it is about finding greater happiness.