You may have heard people say they are "Type A"--you may be one of those people yourself--but understanding what it truly means to have a "Type A personality" can be transformative, both in how you manage stress and in how you recognize and respond to those who may be "Type A." Since researchers started studying Type A personality, beginning with cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman in the 1950s, it’s become a household term.
Most people now know that Type A personality characteristics have something to do with being competitive and work-obsessed and can bring an increased risk of health problems, but it’s not always understood exactly what traits constitute “Type A Behavior,” or exactly how these traits impact health and wellbeing.
Here you'll learn more about Type A, how it affects people, and how to deal with stress if you have a “Type A Personality” or if you work closely with someone who does.
Type A vs. Type B
Type A personality traits, including competitiveness, time urgency, and a tendency toward workaholism, can be seen (particularly by Type A people) as beneficial for career success. However, they are counterparts with Type B personalities—those who tend to be less focused on competitiveness and more on enjoying the journey.
This doesn't mean that Type Bs don't like to achieve. They may work hard and take real pride in their accomplishments, but they don't attach the same stress to their outcomes if they don't come in first or achieve the most, something that tends to create significant stress in Type As.
Type Bs also tend to be more creative and low-stress by nature. Fortunately, some of this relaxed perspective can be learned and developed.
A Note About Type D
A somewhat newer personality type known as "Type D" (the D is for "distressed") is distinct from Type A and Type B. It is characterized by negative emotions like worry and attempt to inhibit these emotions at the same time, all while avoiding social interaction.
These factors, while different from Type A, can also cause significant stress and negative health outcomes. Fortunately, as with Type A traits, there are effective ways to combat Type D traits like negativity, excessive worry, and inhibition.
Traits of Type A Behavior
While the term “Type A” is thrown around often, it’s not always fully known what specific characteristics make up Type A personality, even among experts. For some people, the term applies to rude and impatient people. Others see workaholics as Type A. Many see competitiveness as the main characteristic. According to research, the following characteristics are the hallmark characteristics of Type A Behavior Pattern (TABP):
- Time Urgency and Impatience, as demonstrated by people who, among other things, get frustrated while waiting in line, interrupt others often, walk or talk at a rapid pace, and are always painfully aware of the time and how little they have to spare.
- Free-Floating Hostility or Aggressiveness, which shows up as impatience, rudeness, being easily upset over small things, or ‘having a short fuse,’ for example.
Additionally, Type A behavior often includes:
- Competitiveness: these people need to "win" at everything from work to relationships, even if these activities aren't inherently competitive.
- Strong Achievement-Orientation: Type A people tend to get their feelings of self-worth from what they achieve.
- A Need for Dominance: Many Type A people try to show dominance in business and personal interactions, disregarding the wishes and needs of others on favor of their own.
- Certain Physical Characteristics: these result from stress and from years of Type A behavior, and are listed below.
Friedman associated the following physical characteristics often accompany TABP.
- Facial tension (tight lips, clenched jaw, etc.)
- Tongue clicking or teeth grinding
- Dark circles under eyes
- Facial sweating (on forehead or upper lip)
Negative Effects of Type A Behavior
Over the years, the type of extra stress that most Type A people experience takes a toll on their health and lifestyle. The following are some of the negative effects that are common with those exhibiting TABP.
- Hypertension: Although the relationship between personality types and high blood pressure is complex, there has been some association between hypertension and Type A personalities.
- Heart Disease: There is some ambiguity, but some research shows that there is a causal relationship between TABP and coronary heart disease. However, recent analysis has failed to confirm this.
- Job Stress: Type A people usually find themselves in stressful, demanding jobs (and sometimes the jobs create the Type A behavior), which can lead to stress-related health problems.
- Social Isolation: Those with TABP often alienate others, or spend too much time on work and focus too little on relationships, putting them at risk for social isolation and the increased stress that comes with it.
Fixed Characteristic vs. Situational Reaction
While many personality traits, such as extroversion, are innate, most researchers believe that Type A personality characteristics are more of a reaction to environmental factors, or tendencies toward certain behaviors, and are influenced by culture and job structure. For example:
- Many jobs put heavy demands on time, making it necessary for workers to be very concerned with getting things done quickly if they’re to adequately get their jobs done.
- Some workplaces put heavy penalties on mistakes, so efficiency and achievement become extremely important.
- Other jobs just create more stress, making people less patient, more stressed, and more prone to Type A behaviors.
- Other people do have a natural tendency toward being more intense, but this tendency can be exacerbated by environmental stress, or mitigated by conscious effort and lifestyle changes.
How to Change and Soften Type A Characteristics
Fortunately, like traits such as optimism or assertiveness, Type A characteristics can be altered. The following are ways to soften Type A characteristics in yourself if you possess them:
Change Your Work Life
Altering certain factors in your work life to make your job less stressful, more rewarding, and less demanding. For example, you can consciously make an effort to enjoy the meaning you attach to your work rather than focusing primarily on outcomes. You may talk to your boss about expectations to be sure that it is possible to meet them with a reasonable level of work if your job has been stressful enough to affect your health.
Change Thought Patterns
With practice, when you alter your thinking patterns to more positive ones you develop more trust in yourself and in those around you, and can soften your Type A tendencies. When you find yourself feeling inadequate if you make mistakes, for example, focus more heavily on what you are doing well. When you find yourself using negative self-talk, focus on talking to yourself the way you would a good friend.
Fake It Till You Make It
Sometimes you can ‘act’ your way into new habits. Even if you don’t always feel calm and serene, if you make a conscious choice to try to slow yourself down and be more patient with people, that behavior will most likely become more of a habit and begin to come more easily to you.
Note: it’s not recommended that you become completely detached from awareness of your feelings, or that you keep them bottled up until you eventually explode, but that you focus on making some changes in your behavior in conjunction with emotion-oriented strategies, you should make more progress, more quickly.
The practice of keeping a journal has many proven benefits for your stress level and overall health. It can also be a helpful practice in softening Type A characteristics, especially if done right. The following are the best ways to use your journal as an instrument of change:
- Keep a record of how many times you lose your temper in a day, treat people rudely, or feel overwhelmed by frustration. Becoming more aware of your tendencies and what triggers reactions in you can be a valuable step in changing your patterns.
- Write about your feelings. This helps you to process them, and takes some of the intensity from them, so you’re less overwhelmed by strong emotions.
- Write about solutions. Solving your problems on paper (rather than obsessing about them in your head) can help you to feel less overwhelmed by them. You can also look back through your journal to remember old ideas on solving new problems.
Face Your Fears
This may sound crazy, but a good way to work past Type A tendencies is to give yourself an extra dose of what frustrates you in order to show yourself that it’s not so bad.
For example, some therapists would recommend that you pick long lines in the grocery store, just to show yourself that you can survive the frustration of waiting in line for a few extra minutes. Or, perhaps the threat of having to wait in a longer line will force your subconscious mind to be more patient in one of the shorter lines.
Make It a Game
When you’re frustrated on the road, make a game out of it and count what frustrates you. The same can be done for life in general. If you see how many frustrating things you can playfully tally, for example, you’ll almost look forward to people’s quirks.
The next time you’re about to scream, why not take that deep breath and, instead, just breathe it out? When you feel you’re about to explode, a few deep, slow breaths can do wonders! Learn these breathing exercises and you’ll have a stress reliever you can use anywhere.
Love Your Pets
Pets have many stress management and health benefits, and can help provide you with the extra calm you need. Walking a dog can be relaxing and social, get you out into nature (or at least out of the office), and gets you exercise as well.
Caring for an animal and receiving its unconditional love can get you in touch with the best parts of your own humanity. Even watching aquarium fish has been known to have a measurable affect on blood pressure! Learn more about pets and stress here.
Getting out into the sunshine, beautifying your yard, and getting back in touch with nature are some of the benefits of gardening. It all adds up to some great stress relief. This tension taming tool can reduce overall stress and teach you to take it easy a little more, softening your Type A tendencies.
A Word From Verywell
Changing your Type A traits doesn't necessarily imply that your existing personality is not a good one. If you're looking to soften a few of your Type A traits, it may just mean you're looking to reduce stress and enjoy your journey more. You can still achieve your goals.
What if you’re not the one with the Type A personality characteristics, but you have to deal with someone else who is? By practicing assertiveness and healthy conflict resolution techniques, you can maintain healthier boundaries and keep yourself from being overrun by a person who exhibits strong Type A personality characteristics.
Myrtek. (2001). Meta-analyses of prospective studies on coronary heart disease, type A personality, and hostility. International Journal of Cardiology. Volume (79)2-3, pp 245–251.
Petticrew et al. (2012). Type A Behavior Pattern and Coronary Heart Disease: Philip Morris’s “Crown Jewel”. American Journal of Public Health. (102)11, 2018-2025.
Sararoodi. (2009). Type D Personality. Journal of Behavioral Sciences.
A and B Type Personalities
The Type A and Type B personality theory describes two common patterns of behavior, contrasting personality types — the high strung Type A and the easy-going Type B are the most well known types. This system of classification also divides people further into Type C and D.
This theory has been controversial in the scientific and medical communities since its publication, the theory has nonetheless persisted, in the form of popular psychology circles who generally lack academic credentials, yet serve as everyday sources of oversimplified information about human behavior and personality.
Type A Personality Traits
Type A people are individuals who are workaholic, highly stressed, extremely ambitious, and particularly rigid in their attitudes.
The following are the characteristics of the type A personality:
- Type A’s have got a severe sense of time urgency. They are always running and can hardly relax. If they sat without doing something useful they may end up feeling guilty.
- Type A’s are over achievers, they usually get themselves involved in many different unrelated activities and perform well in them all.
- Type A's biggest problem is stress, they are usually overwhelmed by the amount of tasks they have to do. These tasks are usually a huge list that they planned for themselves. The Type A person is usually competitive and has a high challenging spirit.
- A Type A personality is prone to angry outbursts. The cause of this hostility towards people is usually due to their not meet the high expectations of the type A personality. Anger management is an important element in modifying this form of aggression and develop self control.
- Winning is all important to the Type A personality. They will compete in all effects, no matter who it is against and what is the prize. Recognition and advancement is very important and they will push themselves to their limits to try and achieve as much as possible, as quickly as possible. However, they may feel unfulfilled as they constantly want to achieve more and more and sometimes their goals may not be realistic. Although they may appear confident, the Type A frequently suffers from self doubt. There is no permanent cure; however, improving self-confidence and self control are tasks that should be worked on everyday.
- A Type A are adept at multitasking, but tend to be very impatient and are irritated by delays and people they consider incompetent. Everything is a rush to the Type A so they will demand people to hurry up. Type A's are unable to relax and take time out to sit quietly doing nothing. Take time to reflect and slow down your pace.
- Resolve conflict effectively.
- Acquire stress management skills.
- Listen to others. Learn to value suggestions from others.
- Redefine the definition of success.
- Consider making lifestyle changes (e.g. work, exercise, diet).
- Set realistic goals to help gain a sense of achievement.
This test is intended to assess behavioral characteristics of the Type A Personality. The results reveal any tendency towards being a continuously stressed-out Type A, or the more laid-back Type B Personality.
The test examines the response to specific statements and indicate which option best describes or applies to you. After finishing our Type A Personality test, you will receive a brief personalized interpretation of your score that includes a graph and information on the test topic.
10 questions requiring 5 minutes
Type B personality traits
Type B individuals are calm and have an easy-going attitude. They are fun-loving and are relatively less competitive. They are also better at relaxing without feeling guilty and they work without getting anxious or agitated. Type B's are the opposite of type A's. They are laid back and not easily stressed. While type B can be achievers too, still they won't be as competitive as Type A's. Type B's can delay work and do it in the last moment, some of them can turn into procrastinators which is something that a type A can never do.
The Type B personality is almost the direct opposite of Type A. The following are the characteristics of the type B personality:
- Stress Handling The Type B people usually do not get stressed easily even under acute circumstances. They are the happy-go-lucky individuals who do not entertain stress and anxiety while doing their tasks. However, they still prove to be fairly productive. They remain carefree and cheerful most of the times and are fun to hang around with.
- Lack Of Urgency They do not mind waiting in queues for getting their work done and do not get hyper if it takes too much time. They do not feel any sort of compulsion to meet deadlines. They have no problem relaxing or sitting without doing anything unlike Type A individuals, who end up feeling guilty if they sat without doing anything constructive. At times, Type B individuals may delay their work to the last moment due to lack of sense of time urgency.
- Relaxed These are the people who remain calm and relaxed most of the times. They believe in taking their time to stop and smell the roses instead of running the mad rat race. They take time to think and ponder before acting. Relaxation, enjoyment and fun come very naturally to them.
- Procrastination Type Bs may delay the work they have to the last moment and they usually don't get stressed that easily.
- Non-aggressive These individuals rarely tend to be aggressive or frustrated. Even if there's something against their will, they are not prone to lose their temper. They are more likely to handle the situation very subtly and patiently, without getting irked.
- Socializing And Enjoying Type B personalities are normally laid back people who hold a relaxed, creative, imaginative, artistic and friendly approach towards life. They spend their free time in leisure activities like socializing, shopping or having a good time. Due to their cheerful nature, these folks are surrounded by friends and lead a good social life.
- Less Competitive Type B personalities are less competitive. They generally take their failures with a grain of salt and regard it as merely an unpleasant experience. On the other hand, Type A individuals who are generally over-achievers, find it very hard to accept failures and end up developing low self-esteem.
- Patience is a virtue and Type Bs are born with it. They remain calm and patient even under stressful situations and have a lot of self-control. They are less likely to get frantic about things and generally swear by the old adage of ‘Slow and steady wins the race’. They are also very tolerant and flexible and can change in order to adapt to changes. You would hardly find them complaining or lamenting about anything.
- Emotional Bonding Their heart rules their head and hence they are very emotional and sensitive. They like expressing their feelings and are generally not indifferent towards others.
Click here to take Personality type A/B Test. The test consists of 30 multiple choice items. Scores range from 35 to 380. Type A is associated with a high score while Type B is associated with a low score.
Type C personality traits
Type C personality traitsWritten by M. Farouk Radwan, MSc. Type C personalities are not assertive by nature, They often suppress their desires and wishes instead of standing up for them. The lack of Assertiveness can result in tremendous stress and even depression over the longer term more than in other personality types.
The following are the characteristics of the type C personality:
- Work on improving your coping skills by understanding your early experiences. It is possible to change the things you don't like about your type C personality while keeping the things that you like.
- The lack of assertiveness is a problem that you must learn how to solve.
A Type D personalityis distressed, Type D's have a negative outlook towards life and are pessimistic. A small event that is not even noticed by type B can ruin type D's day. Type D personalities are more subject to depression than other personality types.
The following are the characteristic of the type D personality:
- A Type D person might become socially withdrawn as a result of fear of rejection even if they like to be around people. Type D's are famous for suppressing their emotions and that makes them the most vulnerable type to depression.
- Type D personalities usually have a low self esteem and an exaggerated fear of disapproval and this is the primary reason that prevents them from opening up to others.
- Do not assume that type D personalities lack social interest; however they frequently might be interested in people, but are afraid to approach them because they fear rejection.
- Negative emotions such as worry, stress, depression, and anger frequently affect type D personalities. A small event that is usually overlooked by others can bother a type D a lot and even ruin his mood.
Self help tips to change a Type D personality:
- Learn how to control your emotions: Almost everyone can control his/her emotions even a Type D. Read this guide to know how to control your emotions.
- Control your thoughts: Learning how to control your thoughts can preventing negative thoughts from being triggered or attempting to control emotions. Read this guide to know how to control your thoughts.
- Get over fear of rejection: The fear of rejection is caused by low self esteem. The fear of rejection results from the belief that others hold he/she to be less worthy than they are. If you are a Type D personality then improving your self esteem is the essential step you must take to heal yourself.
- Learn to open up: After dealing with the fear of rejection, a person needs to work on opening up to others.
- Personality type A/BThe A and B Personality type is a modified version of the Jenkins Activity Survey. This survey was originally formulated to detect behaviors which lead to heart attacks (Jenkins, Ayzanski, Rosenman, 1971).
- A and B Personality Types Type A Time Urgency: Impatient, hurries, under pressure, prompt and often early for appointments, watches clock, walk/talk/eat rapidly, does multiple activities ...
- Stress and Personality Type A's tend to be more competitive, more impatient, have time urgency when compared to the more relaxed and laid back Type B personalities.
The following internet links have been gleaned from personal communications
combined with information from public institutions and athletic organizations/
associations that have a web presence with information concerning team and
individual sports programs:
All materials are copy protected.
The limited use of the materials for education purposes is allowed providing
credit is given for the source of the materials.