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. Despite criticism, the concept of Type A and Type B personalities has continued to be cited in popular psychology. 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.
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 be referred to as perfectionists or "workaholics." In addition, they may strive to take on more responsibilities and projects than they can handle to prove their ability.
The personality characteristics of Type A individuals could include:
- A constant sense of urgency
- A competitive nature
- 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
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, they 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:
- 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 personalities, there are differences between these two personality types, including the following.
The Approach To Success
Type A individuals are considered driven and may constantly strive for success and recognition. In contrast, Type B individuals take a more relaxed approach and focus on enjoying life as it happens. Both approaches may come with benefits and drawbacks. For example, 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.
Attitudes Toward Stress
Type A individuals are often said to experience high stress and anxiety levels, while Type B individuals may focus more on relaxation and avoiding high-stress situations.
Type B individuals may take their time and be content with their pace of life, while Type A individuals may work hard, remain hyper-vigilant, and avoid taking breaks. These traits 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 contrast, Type B individuals might miss opportunities if they can't motivate themselves to continue trying in the face of adversity.
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 adverse outcomes like burnout, depression, and anxiety disorders.
Type B individuals' more relaxed and easy-going nature might help reduce stress and improve overall well-being. However, people-pleasing behaviors or difficulty with motivation and ambition could lead to missing out on opportunities, feeling depressed, or experiencing difficulties in relationships.
How To Cope With Type A Personality Traits
For those who exhibit Type A personality traits, it might be beneficial to find ways to manage 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, 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.
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 personality, 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 can help individuals identify and manage stress, set realistic goals, 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.
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.
If you want to learn more, 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.
What is the difference between Type A and Type B?
During their original research, Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman defined the difference between Type A and Type B personalities in the 1950s. Type A personalities are typically outgoing, energized, rigid, proactive, and highly concerned with status. They tend to prefer structure and reject ambivalence. Type A personalities are often exemplified by the “workaholic” archetype. Ambitious go-getters with a lot of drive to achieve goals are typically Type A.
Conversely, Type B personalities lack the behavior pattern common to Type As. They are less likely to be rigid in thoughts or behaviors, less likely to be cornered with status, and are generally less concerned with achievement. Type A personalities are commonly associated with higher productivity and performance than Type B personalities.
While Type A personalities may seem to have significant benefits, certain traits can be harmful. Type A personalities are associated with several potentially harmful thoughts and behaviors, such as a tendency to be impatient, hostile, and angry. Type As are also likely to experience increased mental stress. The negative aspects of Type A behavior also significantly contribute to potential health risks, such as an increased likelihood of developing coronary heart disease and high blood pressure.
It is important to note that the research linking Type A personalities to negative health effects is mixed. Contemporary research suggests that the hostility and anger dimensions of Type A personalities are responsible for most, if not all, of the health risks associated with Type A behavior patterns. Stress management and anger reduction strategies may significantly reduce the health risks of Type A personalities without impacting drive or performance.
In addition, much of Friedman’s and Rosenman’s research was funded by tobacco companies, indicating a possible conflict of interest. Today, cigarette smoking is known to be an extremely significant risk factor for developing cardiovascular and respiratory disease. However, the impact of smoking was poorly understood when Friedman and Rosenman conducted their research, and it is possible their research was biased in favor of traits other than smoking habits that increased the risk of heart disease.
What is Type A and B personality in sport?
Those who enjoy competing in highly-energetic sports are likely to demonstrate more Type A behaviors than Type B behaviors. Those with a Type A personality tend to be driven to succeed in competition and are willing to push themselves to win. Research into sport personality dimensions suggests that Type A traits are often present in athletes who play more intense roles in a sport, most notably perfectionism, drive, and aggression.
Some sports psychologists suggest that Type A personalities are drawn to high-energy sports, such as football, while Type B personalities are drawn to low-energy sports, like golf. However, most experts agree that both Type A and Type B behaviors are necessary for competitive success, regardless of energy level. For example, while Type A behaviors like aggression and drive are likely helpful during sports, other Type A behaviors like impulsivity and rigidity may make it hard to adapt on the field.
How do you know if you're Type A?
You may have a Type A personality if descriptions of Type A behavior resonate with you. If you’re competitive, driven, and ambitious, you may be a Type A. Similarly, you might feel that some of the negative features of Type A behaviors relate to you. You may have a Type A personality if you are prone to aggression, anger, or hostility. You may also find yourself disregarding other people’s emotions in favor of attaining your goals.
It is important to note that Type A and Type B personalities are only one theoretical construct to describe personality. Modern conceptions of personality theory used in behavioral medicine generally adhere to trait-based personality models, such as the five-factor model. Personality traits, such as extraversion and agreeableness, differ from personality types, such as Type A or Type B. It is possible to have traits from both Type A and Type B personality types, potentially reducing the utility of organizing people into one of two categories.
A quick web search will reveal online tools that may offer insight into whether you are Type A or Type B. However, the results of freely available personality assessments should always be interpreted with caution. Online, free-to-take personality measures do not often undergo the same rigorous testing as personality assessments used in clinical and research settings. Additionally, professional personality assessment is always conducted alongside other personality measures to ensure accuracy.
Is Type B an introvert or an extrovert?
Type A and Type B personalities are not correlated with a presence or lack of extraversion. Type B personalities can be both introverted and extroverted. Type A introverts are typically confident, self-sufficient, and have good social skills. Type B introverts are often shy, lack communication skills, and are more withdrawn. Nevertheless, both Type A and Type B introverts will likely prefer isolation to social engagement.
The existence of Type D personalities may also contribute to the association between Type B personalities and introversion. While Type B personalities can be extroverted and enjoy social contact, Type Ds rarely do. Type Ds are similar to Type B personalities but are significantly more negative and socially withdrawn. The social withdrawal characteristic of a Type D personality, often caused by mental illnesses like depression, may be mistaken for introversion.
Why is it called a Type A personality?
Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman did not clarify why they chose “Type A” and “Type B” when conducting their original research. They likely chose “A” and “B” as a way to represent two distinct categories. Confusion may also be caused by the expansion of their original research. In years since, some have come to refer to “C” and “D” personality types in addition to A and B. Type Ds are often referred to as “distressed” or “depressed” personalities, which may lead some to believe that the letter representing a certain personality type has additional meaning.
What is the best example of a Type A personality?
A common archetype used to represent the Type A personality is the aggressive office executive. They are often portrayed as aggressive go-getters and may hold little regard for those around them. In this context, Type As are usually presented as workaholics, perhaps spending long hours in the office beyond what is typical of most employees. They may also be described as ruthless, seeing those in their way as no more than barriers to success.
Who has classified personality in Type A and Type B?
The earliest classification of personality into Type A and Type B was done by Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, two cardiologists who studied the effects of personality on physical health. Friedman and Rosenman’s research indicated that people with Type A personalities exhibited increased risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
Type A people are typically driven, competitive, and motivated by success. They may also be aggressive, hostile, or angry if they cannot meet their goals on their terms. Type Bs are the opposite; Type B personalities are defined as the absence of Type A behaviors. While a two-category system worked well for Friedman and Rosenman’s research, today’s psychologists recognize that personality is likely too complex to be entirely contained within two categories.
How do I know if I'm a Type A or Type B personality?
If you’re evaluating yourself for Type A vs. Type B indicators, it is likely best to start by considering if you relate to common traits of Type A personalities. Type B personalities are defined as those who do not exhibit the thoughts and behaviors of Type A personalities. Both positive and negative traits are associated with Type A personalities. Examine the traits listed below and note which ones might represent you.
Some typical positive traits might include:
- A drive to push your limits in the pursuit of success.
- High levels of organization and adherence to protocol.
- A dislike of ambivalence or delays.
Some common negative traits might include:
- Inflexibility in thought or behavior.
- “Workaholic” behaviors, such as neglecting self-care or social interactions to achieve goals.
- Highly aware of the success of those around you and a strong negative feeling associated with others succeeding.
You may be a Type A personality if you identify with the above traits. A quick web search will also reveal freely-available personality assessments that may offer more insight into your personality type. However, online, free-to-take personality tests should always be interpreted with caution. They rarely undergo the rigorous testing of professional personality assessments, and their results should be used for entertainment purposes only.
How do Type A people act?
Type A people tend to be driven, ambitious, and can sometimes be aggressive or indifferent to those around them. Generally, Type A people are motivated by success and prioritize achieving their goals above recreational or relaxing activities. They may be openly hostile when their goals are not met or if they perceive someone standing in the way of their success, although not everyone with a Type A personality is guaranteed to be hostile.
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