Are You a Type A Personality?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on September 10, 2021
4 min read

There are many ways to describe personality and divide them into characteristics. Personalities can be categorized in a number of ways. In 1970, two U.S. doctors named Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman identified personality Types A and B.

Defining personalities into Type A and B is a spectrum with these two types at opposite ends. Most people are somewhere in between with a mix of character traits from each personality type. ‌

If you are a Type A personality, you are likely to be characterized as:

  • Driven
  • Being a hard worker
  • Having the determination to succeed
  • Being very quick to make decisions
  • Likely to multitask
  • Goal-oriented‌
  • Organized‌

More stress. All of these traits are very positive but can lend themselves to a higher likelihood of stress. If you have a Type A personality, you probably put a lot of pressure on yourself. You may feel the need to multitask if you have a lot to do. You want to get tasks done right and done quickly.‌

As a person with a Type A personality, you don’t like to waste time. You tend to see things in black and white, focusing on things immediately in front of you. You focus intensely on your work and list of things you want to achieve. If you feel like things aren’t going according to plan, you may feel impatient and irritated.‌

Because you put pressure on yourself, you may be more critical of your achievements. You may tend to focus on what you could have done better or more efficiently. This causes internal stress, which can affect your overall health.

A person with a Type B personality is the opposite of Type A. If you have a Type B personality, you are likely to be laid back and relaxed. You do your best work, but don’t stress about deadlines or to-do lists. If you miss a deadline or don’t complete a task, it doesn’t bother you. Type B personalities are less likely to experience stress on a day-to-day basis.‌

You may find that you lean more toward one personality type or the other. There may be a certain area of your life, like your career, where you tend to be more Type A than Type B. In other areas, you may feel less stress and pressure.

Many characteristics of Type A personality lead to success in careers. You speak to people directly and say what you feel. You make decisions easily and work hard to get things done and done right. You are likely to make a good leader, and your character traits make you desirable for promotions.‌

You rise to challenges in all areas of your life. When life is difficult, you keep moving forward. This can be especially beneficial in your personal life when the unexpected happens.

You are much more likely to feel stress with a Type A personality. You perceive that it feels natural or normal to juggle many tasks at once. You may work longer and harder than others around you. Really, you’re overloading yourself and not allowing enough time for mental and physical rest.

You may channel your stress as a way to drive you forward. This may work in the short term but takes a toll on your attitude and health. You may develop a short temper or treat others with hostility because they don’t live up to your expectations for yourself. This may strain your relationships at home and work.

Studies show that you’re at a greater risk for heart disease, obesity, and high blood pressure with a Type A personality. Other risks may include:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest tightness
  • Tiredness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Digestive problems

Having a Type A personality is what you make of it. The characteristics can be good or bad for your health, depending on how you use your strengths. If you have a tendency toward stress, look for ways to improve your mental health.‌

Identify stress triggers. Pay attention to things that increase your stress levels. Once you identify stress triggers, you can find ways to improve those situations in your life. Plan ahead and seek ways to problem solve before your stress is too high.‌

Plan breaks. If you tend to overwork yourself, plan breaks in advance. If you’re at work, schedule breaks on your calendar. Even when you want to, don’t work through break times. At home, schedule downtime for activities you find joy in. ‌‌

Exercise. Physical activity is one of the best ways to beat stress. Exercise releases endorphins that improve your mood. This can help you maintain a positive outlook instead of allowing stress to overwhelm you.