Type A Personality
Type A Personality
Saul McLeod, updated 2017
This type of personality concerns how people respond to stress. However, although its name implies a personality typology, it is more appropriately conceptualized as a trait continuum, with extremes Type-A and Type-B individuals on each end.
Friedman and Rosenman (both cardiologists) actually discovered the Type A behavior by accident after they realized that their waiting-room chairs needed to be reupholstered much sooner than anticipated.
When the upholsterer arrived to do the work, he carefully inspected the chairs and noted that the upholstery had worn in an unusual way: "there's something different about your patients, I've never seen anyone wear out chairs like this."
Unlike most patients, who wait patiently, the cardiac patients seemed unable to sit in their seats for long and wore out the arms of the chairs. They tended to sit on the edge of the seat and leaped up frequently. However, the doctors initially dismissed this remark, and it was only five years later that they began their formal research.
Friedman and Rosenman (1976) labeled this behavior Type A personality. They subsequently conduced research to show that people with type A personality run a higher risk of heart disease and high blood pressure than type Bs.
Although originally called 'Type A personality' by Friedman and Rosenman it has now been conceptualized as a set of behavioral responses collectively known as Type A Behavior Pattern.
Type A Behavior Pattern (TABP)
Typical responses of TABP include:
Type A individuals tend to be very competitive and self-critical. They strive toward goals without feeling a sense of joy in their efforts or accomplishments.
Interrelated with this is the presence of a significant life imbalance. This is characterized by a high work involvement. Type A individuals are easily ‘wound up’ and tend to overreact. They also tend to have high blood pressure (hypertension).
Type A personalities experience a constant sense of urgency: Type A people seem to be in a constant struggle against the clock.
Often, they quickly become impatient with delays and unproductive time, schedule commitments too tightly, and try to do more than one thing at a time, such as reading while eating or watching television.
Type A individuals tend to be easily aroused to anger or hostility, which they may or may not express overtly. Such individuals tend to see the worse in others, displaying anger, envy and a lack of compassion.
When this behavior is expressed overtly (i.e., physical behavior) it generally involves aggression and possible bullying (Forshaw, 2012). Hostility appears to be the main factor linked to heart disease and is a better predictor than the TAPB as a whole.
Type B & C Personalities
People with Type B personality tend to be more tolerant of others, are more relaxed than Type A individuals, more reflective, experience lower levels of anxiety and display a higher level of imagination and creativity.
The Type C personality has difficulty expressing emotion and tends to suppress emotions, particularly negative ones such as anger. This means such individual also display 'pathological niceness,' conflict avoidance, high social desirability, over compliance and patience.
Friedman & Rosenman (1976) conducted a longitudinal study to test their hypothesis that Type A personality could predict incidents of heart disease. The Western Collaborative Group Study followed 3154 healthy men, aged between thirty-nine and fifty-nine for eight and a half years.
Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire.
Examples of questions asked by Friedman & Rosenman:
Do you feel guilty if you use spare time to relax? Do you need to win in order to derive enjoyment from games and sports? Do you generally move, walk and eat rapidly? Do you often try to do more than one thing at a time?
From their responses, and from their manner, each participant was put into one of two groups:
Type A behavior: competitive, ambitious, impatient, aggressive, fast talking.
Type B behavior: relaxed, non-competitive.
According to the results of the questionnaire 1589 individuals were classified as Type A personalities, and 1565 Type B.
The researchers found that more than twice as many Type A people as Type B people developed coronary heart disease. When the figures were adjusted for smoking, lifestyle, etc. it still emerged that Type A people were nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as Type B people.
For example, eight years later 257 of the participants had developed coronary heart disease. By the end of the study, 70% of the men who had developed coronary heart disease (CHD) were Type A personalities.
The Type A personality types behavior makes them more prone to stress-related illnesses such as CHD, raised blood pressure, etc.
Such people are more likely to have their ”flight or fight” response set off by things in their environment.
As a result, they are more likely to have the stress hormones present, which over a long period of time leads to a range of stress-related illnesses.
Limitations of the study involve problems with external validity. Because the study used an all male sample it is unknown if the results could be generalized to a female population.
Studies carried out on women have not shown such a major difference between Type A and Type B and subsequent health. This may suggest that different coping strategies are just as important as personality.
The study was able to control for other important variables, such as smoking and lifestyle. This is good as it makes it less likely that such extraneous variables could confound the results of the study.
However, there are a number of problems with the type A and B approach. Such approaches have been criticized for attempting to describe complex human experiences within narrowly defined parameters. Many people may not fit easily into a type A or B person.
A longitudinal study carried out by Ragland and Brand (1988) found that as predicted by Friedman Type A men were more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease. Interestingly, though, in a follow up to their study, they found that of the men who survived coronary events Type A men died at a rate much lower than type B men.
The major problem with the Type A and Type B theory is actually determining which factors are influencing coronary heart disease. Some research (e.g., Johnston, 1993) has concentrated on hostility, arguing that the Type A behavior pattern is characterized by underlying hostility which is a major factor leading to coronary heart disease.
Other research has investigated the way that type A people experience and cope with stress, which is the major factor leading to coronary heart disease. It would seem that a much more sophisticated model is needed to predict coronary heart disease than Friedman and Rosenman's Type A & Type B approach.
Forshaw, M., & Sheffield, D. (Eds.). (2012). Health psychology in action. John Wiley & Sons.
Johnston, D. W. (1993). The current status of the coronary prone behavior pattern. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 86(7), 406.
Ragland, D. R., & Brand, R. J. (1988). Coronary heart disease mortality in the Western Collaborative Group Study. Follow-up experience of 22 years. American Journal of Epidemiology, 127(3), 462-475.
Rosenman, R. H., Brand, R. J., Sholtz, R. I., & Friedman, M. (1976). Multivariate prediction of coronary heart disease during 8.5 year follow-up in the Western Collaborative Group Study. The American Journal of Cardiology, 37(6), 903-910.
How to reference this article:
McLeod, S. A. (2017). Type A personality. Retrieved from www.simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html
Type A Personality vs Type B Personality
There are many classifications out there that help in determining people’s personalities ,however, the type A and type B classification is the most famous one due to its high accuracy.
This classification divides people into type As, type Bs and other types like Type C and d But the most famous ones are the A the B. below is all what you need to know about these types:
Type A Personality
The following are the characteristics of the type A personality
- Overly concerned with the time: Type As have got a severe sense of time urgency. They are always running and can hardly relax. If they sat without doing something useful they may end up feeling guilty
- Obsessed with achievements: Type As are over achievers, they usually get themselves involved in many different unrelated activities and try to perform well in them all.
- They experience a lot of stress: Type A's biggest problem is stress, they are usually overwhelmed by the amount of tasks they have to do. These tasks are usually a huge list that they planned for themselves.
- They are very competitive: Type As are usually very competitive, they love challenges and hate to lose. Type As can sometimes become aggressive due to their intense desire to win
- They are usually very ambitious: Type As are usually very ambitious people who want to achieve so many different goals. According to one theory some people turn into Type A's to be able to achieve the long list of goals they have set for themselves
- They can hardly relax: Type As don't know how to relax. Even when they are on a vacation they might think of work or might feel guilty just because they aren't being productive
- Might have problems with team work: Due to their unusual speed in finishing tasks Type A's can be challenged by slow people who work with them. Some type A's prefer to work alone
- They a have wide range of interests: Type As usually have a wide range of interests. They are highly organized and usually try to maintain a good level of achievement in all the activities they are interested in
- Might prefer routine: Many type As prefer routine over uncertain tasks because it allows them to get their tasks done in a fast and efficient manner.
- Goal oriented and laser focused: A Typical Type A is a laser focused and goal oriented person. If a Type A went to buy something then he won't return home without it. Getting the goal done at all costs is an integral part of the Type A's way of thinking
Type B Personality
- Relaxed and laid back: Type B personality is almost the opposite of Type A. This type of person is relaxed by nature and has no sense of time urgency. Those people aren't overly concerned with deadlines as much as Type As are
- They experience less stress: Type Bs have got no problems relaxing or sitting without doing anything. Unlike Type As who feel guilty if they didn't work Type B's can relax and enjoy their time
- They might procrastinate: Type Bs may delay the work they have to the last moment and they usually don't get stressed that easily. Some Type Bs might become procrastinators.
- They can become achievers as well: Type B could be an achiever too but his lack of sense of time urgency helps him much in not feeling stressed while doing his tasks.
- They are much more patient: Type Bs are usually much more patient than Type As who might have serious patience problems. A typical Type A would want to get what he wants right now and he might even change the decision just because the speed of delivery isn't as he expected. If a Type A went to buy something then he will chose the fastest path and the easiest way
Genes plus environmental factors
The combination of certain genes and environmental factors can either make a person a Type A or a Type B. If a kid was raised in a way that he became very ambitious yet he wanted to achieve much in a short period of time then he might become a Type A.
Type As are also considered brave people in individual psychology because they responded to the environment challenges correctly by moving towards their goals instead of running away from them. Type Bs can also be brave. Some Type Bs however might just be too scared to move forward in life and as a result they turned into procrastinators.
It's important to note that a Type B isn't a procrastinator but some type B's become procrastinators if they lacked enough courage.
want to know more?
i am type A , what can i do to control stress?
i am a type A and i have problems with teamwork
what are other theories that classified personalities?
Type C personality traits
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