Type A and Type B Personalities

20/04/2020 0 By indiafreenotes

Type A and Type B personality hypothesis describes two contrasting personality types. In this hypothesis, personalities that are more competitive, highly organized, ambitious, impatient, highly aware of time management and/or aggressive are labeled Type A, while more relaxed, less ‘neurotic’, ‘frantic’, ‘explainable’, personalities are labeled Type B.

The two cardiologists who developed this theory came to believe that Type A personalities had a greater chance of developing coronary heart disease. Following the results of further studies and considerable controversy about the role of the tobacco industry funding of early research in this area, some reject, either partially or completely, the link between Type A personality and coronary disease. Nevertheless, this research had a significant effect on the development of the health psychology field, in which psychologists look at how an individual’s mental state affects physical health.

Type A

The hypothesis describes Type A individuals as outgoing, ambitious, rigidly organized, highly status-conscious, impatient, anxious, proactive, and concerned with time management. People with Type A personalities are often high-achieving “workaholics”. They push themselves with deadlines, and hate both delays and ambivalence. People with Type A personalities experience more job-related stress and less job satisfaction. Interestingly, those with Type A personalities do not always outperform those with Type B personalities. Depending on the task and the individual’s sense of time urgency and control, it can lead to poor results when there are complex decisions to be made.  However, research has shown that Type A individuals are in general associated with higher performance and productivity (Barling & Charbonneau, 1992; Bermudez, Perez-Garcia, & Sanchez-Elvira, 1990; Glass, 1977). Moreover, Type A students tend to earn higher grades than Type B students (Waldron et al., 1980), and Type A faculty members were shown to be more productive than their Type B behavior counterparts (Taylor, Locke, Lee, & Gist, 1984).

In his 1996 book dealing with extreme Type A behavior, Type A Behavior: Its Diagnosis and Treatment, Friedman suggests that dangerous Type A behavior is expressed through three major symptoms:

  • Free-floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents
  • Time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation usually described as being “short-fused”
  • A competitive drive, which causes stress and an achievement-driven mentality. The first of these symptoms is believed to be covert and therefore less observable, while the other two are more overt.

Type A people were said to be hasty, impatient, impulsive, hyperalert, potentially hostile, and angry. Research has also shown that Type A personalities deal with reality and have certain defenses when it comes to dealing with problems.

Janet Spence’s research has shown that the Type A archetype can be broken down into two factors assessed using a modified Jenkins activity survey with 7 questions assessing AS and 5 items assessing II. The two factors are Achievement Striving (AS) and Impatience Irritability (II). AS is a desirable factor which is characterized by being hard working, active, and taking work seriously. II is undesirable and is characterized by impatience, irritability, and anger. Subsequent work by Day and Jreige has further clarified the independence of these two subtypes of type A personality. Additionally they further defined the interactions between AS and II subtypes and psychosocial outcomes.  AS was more strongly linked to job satisfaction while II was linked to self report of satisfaction and life satisfaction.  Associations were demonstrated between AS and II subtypes moderating the impact of job stressors (job control, role overload and role ambiguity) on outcomes of job satisfaction, life satisfaction and perceived stress.

There are two main methods to assessing Type A behaviour. The first being the SI and the second being the Jenkins Activity Survey (JAS) The SI assessment involves an interviewer measuring a persons emotional, nonverbal and verbal responses (your expressive style). The JAS involves a self questionnaire with three main categories: Speed and Impatience, Job Involvement, and Hard-Driving Competitiveness.

Type B

Type B is a behavior pattern that is lacking in Type A behaviors. A-B personality is a continuum where one either leans to be more Type A or Non Type A (Type B).

The hypothesis describes Type B individuals as a contrast to those of Type A. Type B personality, by definition, are noted to live at lower stress levels. They typically work steadily, and may enjoy achievement, although they have a greater tendency to disregard physical or mental stress when they do not achieve. When faced with competition, they may focus less on winning or losing than their Type A counterparts, and more on enjoying the game regardless of winning or losing. Unlike the Type A personality’s rhythm of multi-tasked careers, Type B individuals are sometimes attracted to careers of creativity: writer, counselor, therapist, actor or actress. Their personal character may enjoy exploring ideas and concepts.

Type B personality types are more tolerant than individuals in the Type A category. This can be evident through their relationship style that members of upper management prefer. Type B individuals can “…see things from a global perspective, encourage teamwork, and exercise patience in decision making…”

Interactions between Type A and Type B

Type A individuals’ proclivity for competition and aggression is illustrated in their interactions with other Type As and with Type Bs. When playing a modified Prisoner’s Dilemma game, Type A individuals elicited more competitiveness and angry feelings from both Type A and Type B opponents than did the Type B individuals. Type A individuals punished their Type A counterparts more than their Type B counterparts, and more than Type Bs punished other Type Bs. Rivalry between Type A individuals was shown by more aggressive behavior in their interactions, including initial antisocial responses, refusal to cooperate, verbal threats, and behavioral challenges.