What Is a Type A Personality?

Medically Reviewed by Poonam Sachdev on November 09, 2021
3 min read

The phrase "Type A" refers to a pattern of behavior and personality associated with high achievement, competitiveness, and impatience, among other characteristics.

In particular, the positive traits of a Type A personality include:

  • Self-control
  • Motivation to achieve results
  • Competitiveness
  • Multi-tasking skills

Meanwhile, the more difficult traits that come with a Type A personality definition include:

  • Chronic competitiveness
  • Impatience
  • Aggression
  • Hostility 

Yes. Because of tendencies to engage in urgent and achievement-oriented behavior, people with a Type A personality may feel more stressed or develop stress-related disorders. 

Other characteristics that make people with a Type A personality likely to experience stress include:

  • Impatience: People with a Type A personality often feel like they're constantly racing against the clock.
  • Competitiveness: People with a Type A personality are highly competitive and so might criticize themselves a lot when they fail to "win."
  • Hostility: People with a Type A personality are easily angered and might see the worst in others, sometimes lacking a compassionate outlook.
  • Achievement-oriented: People with a Type A personality tend to base their self-worth on external achievement and may have a poor work-life balance because of their constant need to prove themselves. 

There is some evidence that the Type A personality trait of hostility, in particular, might contribute to the development of CHD. 

In one trial of men, researchers found that more than twice as many people with a Type A personality developed CHD when compared to people with a Type B personality. By the end of the study, it turned out that 70% of the men who had developed CHD had Type A personalities.

However, because the trial only looked at adult men, it's unclear if the results can be applied to everyone with a Type A personality. In fact, later studies in women have not shown such a big difference between Type A and Type B personalities when it comes to health outcomes, suggesting that how people cope with their Type A personality traits is just as important as the traits themselves. 

If you have a Type A personality or relate to the aforementioned characteristics, it's important to find healthy ways of managing your stress. These strategies could include:

  • Exercise: Working out releases hormones like endorphins, which help increase feelings of pleasure.
  • Yoga: This is a form of activity based on slow movement and stretches that help relieve anxiety and improve mindfulness.
  • Meditation: Meditation can help reduce stress, anxiety, and chronic pain while simultaneously raising your mood and overall energy levels.
  • Diet: certain nutrients like magnesium, Vitamin C, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to reduce the physiological effects of stress.

People with a Type A personality are often contrasted to people with a Type B personality, which is associated with the following traits:

  • Easygoing attitude
  • Low competitiveness
  • Low frustration
  • Lacking the desire to prove oneself

When it comes to Type A vs Type B personality, there's no clear "winner." As with all personality types, people who fit either the Type A or Type B personality type have both positive traits and flaws they should work on.

In fact, personality types are best understood as a spectrum with extreme Type A traits on one end and extreme Type B traits on the other. Most people tend to fall somewhere along the spectrum rather than right at its ends.