Type A and Type B Personality: Is there a Type C? Which one are you?

 

Type A and Type B personality. Are you a person who is competitive by nature? Do you or the people you know consider you a “workaholic”? Do you find yourself being very goal driven or highly motivated? Or do you consider yourself a person with a more laid-back demeanor? Are you rarely stressed and tend to procrastinate when it comes to handling tasks or assignments? Or do you find yourself being a mixture of both?

Whether you have ever heard of type A and type B personality theories or not, this useful guide explains in the history of these personality theories, the personality types in detail, health risks that are associated with certain personality types and how to prevent them. Feel free to take any of the quizzes at the end of the article to find out which personality type you are.

Type A and Type B Personality

Type A and Type B Personality

Type A and Type B Personality: What are Personality Types?

The theory of Type A personality first emerged in the 1950s when cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman conducted an eight and a half year longitudinal study among healthy men aged 35 and 59. What first drew them to conduct this study was the observation they made regarding the patients in their waiting rooms who had known heart conditions. What they noticed was that some of these patients had worn down the front edges of the seat and armrest areas of the chairs in the waiting room, indicating that more time was spent sitting at the edge of the seat instead of the usual back area of the chair. These particular patients were also unable to sit in the chair for long periods of time and got up from their seat frequently. Amazed at this phenomenon, Friedman and Rosenman decided to study this further.

The subsequent study was done to find the correlation between personality and heart disease. Their findings showed that the men more likely to experience heart problems were men who displayed impatient, highly driven and highly stressed personalities. Although Friedman first coined the term “Type A” in the late 1950s through his published writings in academic journals, the Type A personality theory became popularized in 1974 after Rosenman published his book, Type A Behavior and Your Heart.

Fast-forward over forty years later and this personality theory has expanded in research within the psychological and medical communities. Not only have more personality types emerged since the emergence of Type A—each with their own distinct characteristics—but also certain personality types are believed to show a relationship with health risks. It is important to note, however, that over the recent years, more psychologists recommend using caution when labeling someone one of these personality types.

As a psychology professor at the University of Michigan, John Schaubroeck explains to the Huffington Post, the behaviors and characteristics of these personality types should be seen as a spectrum instead of distinct labels. What this means is that if we are to say a person has a “Type A” personality, it means that they have traits, such as competitiveness, high ambition or high irritability, that fall more on the side of the Type A spectrum. In the next section, we will discuss the personality types and their characteristics.

What are the Type A and Type B Personality Theories?

As previously mentioned, the personality type theory has expanded greatly since it first emerged in the 1950s. Although Type A and Type B personality are the most commonly know personalities in this theory, Type C, and Type D personality has also been written about in academic journals. In this article, we will only focus on Type A and Type B personality theories.

Type A Personality

What do TV characters Leslie Knope from “Parks and Recreation”, Olivia Pope from “Scandal”, Joan Harris from “Mad Men”, and Frank Underwood from “House of Cards” have in common? This personality type.

Type A and Type B personality - Olivia Pope

Olivia Pope- Courtesy of the HuffPost

There are three distinct characteristics of a Type A personality (although some researchers may list more distinct characteristics).

The first is the tendency to be highly competitive. Type A personalities are very goal-oriented and work hard to achieve these goals. However, there is little sense of joy in the accomplishment of goals. This could be due to the fact that Type A personalities can be self-critical.

Another distinct characteristic of Type A personality is time urgency. Type A personalities feel a constant sense of urgency that causes them to be impatient and even irritated with anything that “wastes time”. This means that Type A personalities have a habit of being inflexible when it comes to scheduling time commitments and making a habit of multitasking. For example, eating while working on an assignment. Type A personalities also sort out multi tasked careers, such as business, entrepreneurship, leadership or public policy and are considered “workaholics”.

The third distinct characteristic of a Type A personality is hostility. This characteristic might be the closest link to the assumption that personality types can be linked to heart disease. Type A personalities can be easily angered or hostile. They can show bouts of anger and lack of compassion toward others. In some cases, Type A personalities can show physical aggression towards other people and can be labeled as bullies.

Type B Personality

What do TV characters Phoebe Buffay-Hannigan from “Friends”, Shaggy Rogers from “Scooby-Doo”, Jim Halpert from “The Office” and Pumba from “The Lion King” have in common? Type B Personality.

Type A and Type B personality- Pumba

Pumba-The Lion King

Type B personalities are known to be the opposite of Type A personalities. There are also three distinct characteristics of Type B personalities (and similar to Type A, some researchers list more).

The first characteristic is their non-competitive and relaxed nature. Unlike Type A personalities, Type B personalities are not highly competitive and may focus less on seeing things as winning or losing. When Type B personalities do happen to lose at something, such as a game, they still find enjoyment and satisfaction in participating in it. Type B personalities also find satisfaction in their achievements, due to the fact that they are not self-critical, unlike their Type A counterparts.

Another distinct characteristic of Type B personalities is their lack of time urgency. Because Type B personalities are more relaxed, they do not see the need to race against time. For this, Type B personalities work steadily and handle tasks one at a time. They may be attracted to creative careers, for they display higher levels of creativity when compared to Type A personalities. Type B personalities may take on careers such as being a writer, actor, counselor or therapist or even careers such as a professor or judge.

The third distinct characteristic of Type B personalities is their lack of hostility and aggression. Type B personalities do not seem to have a difficult time expressing their feelings, which could explain why they experience lower levels of anxiety. They also tend to be very reflective and think of the “outer and inner world”.

Type A and Type B Personality: Is there a Type C Personality?

What do TV characters Schmidt from “New Girl”, Lip Gallagher from “Shameless”, Saul Goodman from “Breaking Bad” and Mr. Feeny from “Boy Meets World” have in common?

Type A and type B personality- Saul Goodman

Saul Goodman- Breaking Bad

Type C personality

Type C personalities are known to exhibit both tendencies of Type A and Type B personality. However, they do characteristics different from both Type A and Type B personalities. For example, Type C personalities tend to be detail-oriented and well focused, similar to Type A personalities. They can also strive to perfectionism with their work, causing them to find it difficult to work with other people. For that, Type C personalities can be introverted and prefer to work alone. This does not mean that Type C personalities are limited when it comes to choosing careers that fit their personality. In fact, their detail-oriented nature and __ allows for them to be excellent workers. They have a wider range of career choices than Type A or Type B personalities.

Similar to Type B personalities, Type C personalities do not show hostility and aggressiveness towards others. In fact, Type C personalities are not known to be assertive when it comes to voicing their own needs. Type C personalities tend to support the needs of others instead of their own. As a result, suppressing their own individual needs and desires can cause stress and depression among Type C personalities. Type C personalities have been shown to be more prone to depression when compared to the other personality types.

Type A and Type B Personality: Health Risks Associated with Type A Personality

The correlation between Type A personality and heart disease has been studied since the earliest emergence of the Type A personality theory. Both Friedman and Rosenman believed that individuals with Type A personalities were more likely to develop heart disease than their Type B counterparts. This relation has since been debated in the field of medicine. Some research has suggested the link to be strong, while others, like the study appearing in the 2006 Public Library of Science, have seen no link. One of the arguments raised about the earlier studies showing a link between Type A personality and heart disease is the disregard researchers had for confounding variables, such as diet and lifestyles, in the patients that were discovered to have heart disease.

As mentioned earlier, what might be the closest link to heart disease in Type A personalities is the hostility and aggression. Individuals who handle stress with hostility and aggression can add chronic strains to the heart and body, which can have adverse effects long-term. The best way to prevent stress-related illnesses is to learn how to handle stress with various stress-management techniques.

Type A and Type B Personality: Further Discussion & Comments

It is important to understand that personality types are neither hereditary nor fixed. What this means is that it is impossible to categorize over seven billion living people into just four (including Type D) personality types. Since these personality types should be seen along a spectrum, we should understand that it is more likely that each one of us displays a mixture of personality types, with our strengths leaning towards one end of the spectrum than others at different points in our lives.

It is also important to note that although health risks have been linked to Type A personalities, other personality types can be susceptible to stress-related illnesses. It is important to find ways to manage stress in the healthiest ways possible. If you want to find better ways to manage stress, it is recommended that you consult a doctor or other health care professional.

Hope you enjoyed this article and feel free to comment below.

References

Gregorie, C. 16 Signs You’re A Little (Or A Lot) Type A. Huffington Post. Posted January 13, 2014.

Fiskaali, R. What is Your Personality Type? Type A, B, C or D?. Owlcation. Posted June 13, 2016.

McLeod, S. Type A Personality. SimplyPsychology. Posted 2014. 

Bates, K. Study: Type A Personality not Linked to Heart Disease. The University of Michigan Record Online. Posted September 5, 2006.

Huhman, H. Most Ideal Jobs for Type A Personalities. Business Insider. Posted December 12, 2012.

 

Jessica is a writer specialized in psychology and mental health. She is passionate about neuroscience and behavioral neuroscience. She is constantly looking for psychological phenomenons. Jessica has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and minors in Biology and Leadership Development through Civic Engagement from Montclair State University. She plans on continuing to get her Ph.D. in Neuroscience or Clinical Neuropsychology. Jessica is happy to give or take advice, and is always working towards ways to educate and inspire others.