What Are The Differences Between "Type A" And "Type B" Personalities?

Medically reviewed by Dr. April Brewer, DBH, LPC
Updated July 2, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

The terms "Type A" and "Type B" were first introduced by two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, in the 1950s to describe two patterns of behavior associated with personality. The pair of cardiologists created the theory while researching the possible cause of coronary heart disease. 

Despite criticism, the concept of Type A and Type B personalities has continued to be cited in popular psychology and public health studies. Although these personality types are considered a theory and not a fact, it may be beneficial to learn more if you relate to the ideas within the theory or are concerned about health conditions such as coronary disease.

This article examines the differences between Type A and Type B personality types, focusing on the characteristics and behaviors associated with each. For example, we’ll delve into how Type A personality traits, such as high competitiveness and urgency, can lead to Type A behavior, which has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease among people with this personality type. Likewise, we’ll explore how people with type B personalities are characterized by more relaxed, patient, and easy-going demeanors.

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What are the traits of the "Type A" individual?  

Type A individuals are often described as ambitious, highly driven, and in a hurry to complete tasks. They may be competitive and have a profound desire to succeed. Some Type A individuals might have a behavior pattern of being “perfectionists” or "workaholics." In addition, sometimes, these personalities tend to take on more responsibilities and projects than they can handle to prove their ability. 

The personality characteristics of Type A individuals could include:

  • Impatience

  • A constant sense of urgency

  • Highly competitive

  • Perfectionism

  • Workaholic tendencies

  • A constant striving for success

  • Difficulty relaxing

  • High levels of stress and anxiety

  • A desire for organization 

  • A desire to take control of social situations 

  • Leadership abilities 

The jenkins activity survey is the one of the most widely used methods of assessing Type A behaviour patterns in social psychology, in case you’d like to find out more about about where you fit in on the personality scale.

What are the traits of a "Type B" individual? 

Type B individuals are often called "relaxed" and "easy-going." They may be content in taking their time and enjoying life rather than striving for success. According to this personality theory, type b’s are not as driven as Type A individuals and may be less likely to experience chronic stress. 

The personality characteristics of Type B individuals could include: 

  • Relaxation 

  • An easy-going personality 

  • A lack of drive or ambition 

  • Less likelihood of experiencing stress or anxiety 

  • Contentedness with life 

  • A more relaxed approach to success

  • A focus on enjoying how life passes by 

  • A laid-back attitude

  • People pleasing behaviors

Differences between Type A and Type B personalities

While some common traits may be associated with Type A and Type B personality types, there are individual differences between these two personality types, including the following.

The approach to success 

Type A individuals are considered detail-orientated and driven and may constantly strive for success and recognition. In contrast, a Type B personality tends to take a more relaxed approach and focus on enjoying life as it happens. Both approaches may come with benefits and drawbacks. For example, Type A behavior like high ambition can lead to a lack of empathy or social connection. Contrarily, avoidance of taking leadership might lead to complacent behavior,  or a lack of personal growth and academic achievement. 

Attitudes toward stress

Type A individuals often find themselves in stressful situations. Research suggests that they’re more likely to experience high stress and anxiety levels, which can lead to health concerns such as heart desease. while Type B individuals may focus more on social interaction, relaxation and avoiding high-stress situations. 

However, there is always a variety of factors to consider when it comes to physical health and well-being. In the 1960, ’s Tobacco companies used the relationship between personality and coronary heart disease mortality to show smoking doesn't necessarily cause heart disease but that people with personalities who were predisposed to heart disease just happened to smoke. Today, behavioral medicine and healthy psychology show us that this isn’t the full picture, and smoking is, in fact, a risk factor for heart disease too.

Life pace 

Type B individuals are often even-tempered. They may work steadily and be content with their pace of life. Type A individuals may work hard, remain hyper-vigilant, and avoid taking breaks. For example, instead of taking a lunch break, Type A individuals may eat rapidly before rushing off to complete their important tasks. These behavior patterns may also have drawbacks for both individuals if occurring out of proportion. Type A people may struggle to take time for self-care and self-reflection in their personal lives. In contrast, Type B individuals' lack of job involvement can lead to missed opportunities, especially if they can't motivate themselves to continue trying in the face of adversity. Sometimes, these individuals may also struggle with time management, often arriving late to events.

Leadership abilities

Type A individuals might exceed in leadership positions, offering their advice and taking control when others aren't able to. Type B individuals might not feel comfortable with leadership and may step back to allow others to take the reins.

Personality and mental health

The differences between Type A and Type B personalities could significantly impact an individual's mental health. The high levels of stress and anxiety that Type A individuals might experience could lead to certain risk factors like burnout, depression, high blood pressure and anxiety disorders. 

Type B individuals' more relaxed and easy-going nature might help reduce stress and improve overall well-being and physical health. However, people-pleasing behaviors or difficulty with motivation and ambition could lead to an increased risk of missed opportunities, feeling depressed, or experiencing difficulties in relationships. 

Note that these personality descriptions are a theory. Not all individuals that fall into one category in personality tests may experience the same outcomes. Individuals might also exhibit beahviour patterns from Type A and Type B personalities simultaneously or not relate to either category.

How to cope with Type A personality traits

For those who exhibit Type A personality traits, it might be beneficial to find ways of managing stress and anxiety. Below are a few coping suggestions :

  • Mindfulness and meditation: Focusing on the present moment and practicing mindfulness may reduce stress and anxiety. 

  • Relaxation: It might benefit Type A individuals to find ways to relax and recharge, such as taking a break from work, engaging in leisure activities, or practicing yoga. 

  • Realistic goals: Type A individuals might be perfectionists and set unrealistic goals for themselves. Consider setting achievable goals and practicing self-compassion when you make mistakes. 

  • Self-care: Try to prioritize self-care and make time for self-reflection. 

  • Social support: Talking to friends, family, or a mental health professional could help you reduce stress and improve overall well-being.

How to cope with Type B personality traits

Although many people may consider Type B "ideal," it can come with a few challenges. Consider the following coping suggestions: 

  • Visualization: Visualizing your goals and cementing them in your mind may help you be more prepared to advocate for yourself and make a choice. 

  • Pros and cons charts: If you're struggling to make a decision in a high-stakes situation, and it’s leading to mental stress, consider creating a pros and cons chart to weigh the options. 

  • Public speaking classes: If you generally sit back and let others make the decisions, consider taking a public speaking class to become more comfortable with expressing control and speaking to others about your ideas. 

  • Boundaries: Learning to set healthier boundaries could be beneficial if you often partake in people-pleasing behaviors to avoid conflict. 

  • Healthy risk-taking: If you often do not take risks or apply for opportunities, consider taking one healthy risk per six months. This risk might be applying for a job you've dreamed of, reaching out to a social group, or imparting your ideas in front of a crowd in your own way.


Counseling options 

Although the "Type A" and "Type B" personality labels are theories, many individuals relate to them. If you think you might be experiencing adverse symptoms related to certain traits and personlality types, you might consider reaching out to a therapist. Regardless of whether you identify with this theory, pushing yourself too hard or partaking in complacent or people-pleasing behaviors can be symptoms of a mental health condition or concern.

If you struggle to reach out for help or don't have time in your schedule for in-person therapy, you might also benefit from online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp. A trained therapist in clinical psychology can help individuals identify and manage stress, set realistic goals, improve interpersonal relationships and develop coping strategies for anxiety and burnout. With an online platform, you may also have the option to set appointments outside of standard business hours or choose between phone, video, or chat sessions to personalize your experience. 

Peer-reviewed studies have shown that online therapy can benefit individuals with Type A personalities. In one study, researchers conducted studies on 44 male insurance representatives; participants were randomly assigned to a treatment group or a delayed treatment control group. The treatment group participated in nine weekly sessions of rational-emotive behavior therapy (REBT) and showed improvements in Type-A-related behavior and time urgency compared to the control group. These improvements were maintained after follow-up and were accompanied by positive changes in self-reported behavior and limited beliefs.

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While some general tendencies are associated with each personality type, not all individuals in the "Type A" and "Type B" personality models might fit into one category. There is also a personality model for a Type C personality. Understanding the differences between Type A, Type B and even Type C personalities could help individuals better to understand their tendencies and the tendencies of others. 

If you want to learn more, ‘simply psychology’, ‘the american journal’ or the ‘international journal’ are all credible and engaging resources. Also, therapy can be a valuable resource in helping individuals identify and manage stress, set realistic goals, and develop coping strategies for anxiety, burnout, or people-pleasing behaviors.Consider contacting a therapist to get started and gain further insight into this process.

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