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Personality Type Theory

Personality Type Theory

Author: Erick Taggart

Identify the theory or traits associated with Type A and Type B personalities.

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Source: boy with book: public domain;

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Hello class. Today's lesson, we're going to be looking at what's called the type theory of personality. And this is something that might be familiar to a lot of you because it's a sort of a common concept that's been thrown around a lot, made its way into our general language.

Personality type theories try to put people into sort of fixed categories that are based on groups of traits or things that tend to come together, so aspects of personality that group together. And this particular type theory of Type A and Type B personalities was first developed in the 1950s not by a psychologist but rather two cardiologists, who were Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman.

And these were two cardiologists that were looking at what types of people were at higher risk of developing heart diseases and having heart attacks. So they were actually looking at the physiological as opposed to the psychological.

And what they came up with were two categories, which were Type A, which are the types of people that were at high risk of developing heart disease and Type B, who are at low risk. And they found that Type A personalities were twice as likely to develop heart diseases and to have heart attacks.

So they identified in these types of people what were the sorts of characteristics and patterns of behavior for each. So a Type A personality where the majority of research has been done is a type of person who's very competitive. And they drive to try to achieve things. So they want to succeed in certain ways.

They also generally have a sense of urgency and impatience about that. So they're constantly trying to get things done as quickly as possible. They're very proactive. They try to do things as opposed to being reactive. They tend to multitask, and they take on more tasks than they might necessarily be able to do.

They're very highly organized, and they're efficient with time management. So the research shows that oftentimes the driving force behind these Type A personalities is a sort of anger or hostility, which isn't necessarily directed at anyone or anything. But it helps to motivate them to achieve in those kinds of ways.

However, this sorts of anger or hostility can also lead to hypertension, high blood pressure, and increased risk of heart disease due to the stress that's being caused by this. So a lot of Type A personalities need to learn strategies to deal with stress to help out with these physiological issues.

On the other hand, a Type B personality is the exact opposite of a Type A, which is to say that they are very patient and easygoing and relaxed types of people. They tend to be very calm, whereas Type A personalities are constantly moving, and they're constantly anxious.

They also, on the other hand, tend to be very apathetic or unmotivated. They don't achieve things as much as Type A personalities do, and they're very unorganized. So Type B personalities tend to not get anything done, whereas Type A personalities very proactive, very motivated to try to get things done.

So it's important to realize that Type A and Type B are extreme types of personalities. They're on the far end of the spectrum. Ideally, a person could use a little bit of both, which is to say they have a drive to achieve, but they're also not stressed out, and they also don't lead to all these different physiological reactions.

Now, there is a lot of criticism about type theories like Type A Type B personality theory. One is that the categories tend to be overly simplistic. It's trying to put people into one category or the other, when sometimes the traits that are being talked about don't necessarily fit into either one of them.

Other variables could also have an effect on these sorts of things. For example, a person's diet might affect the way that they act, or it might lead to some of those physiological reactions. It might not have anything to do with their personalities at all. So it could be some other factor that's not being accounted for.

And also, these type personalities don't necessarily distinguish between fixed sorts of personality and variable or situational. So a person could be a Type A personality in one situation and a Type B personality in the other.

For example, the type of job they have might influence them and make them feel very stressed out and trying to achieve or trying to get things done. But in general life, they might be a very relaxed person. So you can see that there's pros and cons to talking about type theory.

Terms to Know
Type A

Group of individuals who are driven, responsible, competitive, timely, ambitious, tough, and hostile if their goals are blocked; run a high risk developing cardiovascular disease.

Type B

Group of individuals who are relaxed, resilient, adapt well to new situations, and do things at their own speed; run a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.