The personality types proposed by cardiologists Friedman & Rosenman distinguish between groups people based on the way in which they cope with stress:
|Personality Type||Characteristics of This Type|
|Type A||Type A people are highly motivated, driven to achieve high, sometimes unrealistic, goals, and often overwork themselves. Type A people tend to find themselves with not enough time to do the things they want.
While Type A personalities have the energy to achieve their ambitions, the stress they endure and their inability to manage it properly mean that their cardiovascular systems are made to endure undue amounts of stress, putting them at higher risk of Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) than people in the other groups.
||Type B people tend to be genuinely more relaxed than Type A personalities, and are a result are able to cope with stress better. Because they are able to express their emotions better, and control their anger more effectively than Type As, they are less prone to the potentially harmful repression of emotions.|
|Possible Type C||This is less significant than the Type A/B classifications, but instead of expressing their anger and energy as Type A people do, Type C personalities tend to repress their anger and directing it inwards. While to others, and perhaps themselves, they appear calm and passive, their repressed anger and internalized stress cause hormonal imbalances which may give them an increased risk of cancer.|
Which type am I?
Of course, not everybody can be classified as either Type A, B or C personalities as we react differently in different situations, and all of us feel stressed at some point in our lives. If you think you are a Type A personality, there are 3 sub-categories you might fit into:
- A1: An absolute Type A personality - driven, motivated and ambitious (but also very stressed).
- A2: This is the category of those who sometimes fit into Type A personalities, but at other times do not.
- X: These people can be classed as much in Type A as they can Type B - a half-way point between the two.
What does it matter which type I am?
Personality Type A people are liable to succeed due to their ambitious, 'never-give-up' nature, but are less able to manage stress, and studies have shown that they are at a higher risk of CHD than people of the other categories. The Western Collaborative Group Study measured people's personality types in 1960, and classified them as either A1, A2, X or B type personalities. Eight and a half years later, the same people were re-contacted and a number of them - as any normal population sample would - had developed CHD. What shocked psychologists was the correlation between personality type and suffering from the disorder; 70% of those diagnosed had previously been classified as possessing Type A personas.
Later research has looked at why Type A personalities are more likely to suffer cardio-vascular disorders. In 1977, Matthews et al looked at what factor in Type A caused CHD and claimed that it was not the overall stressed character of the person but more the hostility, for example, rudeness towards others, that is the contributory factor towards health problems.