Type A and B personalities

Having a "type A personality" has become shorthand for a certain sort of competitive or domineering person, but what does it really mean?

Type A and type B personality theory was created by a pair of cardiologists. In the 1950s, Meyer Friedman and RH Rosenman were researching the possible causes of coronary disease. After a nine-year study of over 3,000 healthy men aged 35-59, Friedman and Rosenman speculated that certain patterns of behaviour carried a higher risk, and devised a method for categorising patients as either type A, type B or type AB (for those who defied easy categorisation).

They concluded that someone with a type A personality is more likely to be concerned with status and achievement. They are often workaholics, who may have issues with self-esteem and impatience. They're also more likely to be quick to anger. Unsurprisingly, this is the personality type that Friedman and Rosenman associated with a high risk of heart disease. Type B personalities report higher levels of life satisfaction and are more likely to be patient and even-tempered.

Although we still use the term "type A", there has been much debate over whether it is a valuable measure of personality, and whether a simple test is enough to determine the likelihood of future illness. Indeed, type A/B theory has been heavily criticised for excluding female volunteers and relying on large and unequal sample sizes. However, the research had an enormous effect in stimulating the development of the field of health psychology.

Thanks to guardian.co.uk who have provided this article. View the original here.


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