The Type A/B personality theory is popular and commonly referenced in the mainstream. Understanding people and their personalities is complex and sophisticated. Many factors contribute to our personality. The Type A/B model is one way to assess and describe characteristics and patterns of behavior. One key factor about the A/B personality construct is that it identifies how people respond to stress.
The type model suggests that individuals who have certain personality traits and patterns of behavior fall into two categories, A or B. Those referenced as Type A tend to be urgent, competitive, fast-paced, and ambitious. Individuals identified as Type B are typically more relaxed, easygoing, and low key in their demeanor.
This Type theory of personality originated with a group of doctors in the 1950’s. Dr’s Friedman and Rosenman claimed that a certain type of patient was more likely to get heart disease. They described these individuals as being more “high stress” and named them type A personalities. While further studies questioned the validity of this hypothesis, the Type A/B personality model is still frequently used and applied.
While the type A/B theory is popular, critics propose that the model is too simplistic. Personalities are complex and categorizing people into two types may be considered incomplete. It may be better applied being considered a continuum rather than separate categories. Personalities may be better represented in this fashion rather than identifying A/B as absolute and separate concepts. Nonetheless, it can be a helpful tool to learn about and understand ourselves in more depth.
Individuals with type A qualities tend to be proactive, organized, and ambitious. They often have a strong achievement orientation and are driven to get results. They are often high energy, competitive, and perfectionistic. Other characteristics associated with Type A personalities may be include impatience, hostility, fast paced, being easily frustrated, or seeming rushed. Individuals with type A qualities may become more easily stressed or overwhelmed. They can be described as being intense or high strung.
Type B personality qualifications often include a lack of the above qualities. Individuals with Type B traits may be considered laid back and easygoing. They tend to be calm and can relax easily. They are often tolerant and less inclined to become frustrated or impatient. Type B characteristics also may include: being complacent, lackadaisical, unmotivated, or inclined to procrastinate.
How do you know if you are a Type A or Type B? Try these example questions you may find on a test measuring your personality type.
If you answer TRUE to the following questions:
- I would be described as being tolerant.
- I tend to be fairly flexible.
- Its ok if things don’t turn out as I had planned.
- I tend to procrastinate.
- People see me as being laid back.
- I consider myself fairly easygoing.
- I can run late.
- Others tell me I am patient.
- Things generally don’t bother me much.
- I like a steady pace.
If you answer FALSE to the following questions:
- I often feel impatient.
- I am quick to take action.
- People see me as being fast-paced.
- I would be described as results oriented.
- I get things done quickly.
- My preference is to work with urgency.
- Things frustrate me quickly.
- I tend to get irritated easily.
- I often take too much on and feel stressed.
Karen Doll has been a Licensed Psychologist in the Twin Cities for 20 years, working in organizational consulting. She leverages her education in Clinical Psychology with her leadership assessment expertise in her practice. She is an executive coach focusing on helping people maximize their potential.