Type A & Type B Personality: Differences, Advantages & Disadvantages

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

What's the difference between type A and type B personalities, and where did this idea originate? Learn about the advantages and disadvantages of each personality type in the lesson below. Then try to determine where you fall on the personality spectrum.

Personality Types

A personality type is a way of categorizing people into psychologically similar groups. The human brain is highly complex, and we're a long way from properly understanding it. Personality types help us make sense of it and understand the differences between people. There are many different ways to categorize people by personality. You can compare introverts and extroverts or feelers and thinkers. Some personality types have a small number of groups, while others have many groups.

Personality types help us understand the brain
Personality types are one way we try to understand how the human brain works

Meyer Friedman

One of the most popular personality type systems is also the simplest: the split between type A and type B personalities. This personality grouping first came to be when Meyer Friedman studied heart disease risk factors in the 1950s. He related stress to the risk of heart disease in people who were healthy overall. Friedman's research pertains to particular traits that became known as type A. Later, this research was found to be overly simplistic. In reality, type A personalities have no greater risk of death, but Friedman's method remains a popular way of categorizing people to this day.

Type A Personality

Type A personalities are described as people who exhibit a tendency towards many specific traits. These traits include: ambitious, organized, impatient, status-conscious, anxious, proactive; type A personalities also put an emphasis on using time efficiently.

There are many advantages to having a type A personality. Type A people tend to be motivated, are more likely to become leaders, and generally get a lot done. They are usually more reliable, likely to act on their promises, arrive on time, and able to meet your needs quickly and efficiently. People with a type A personality are also great at planning and therefore decision-making.

However there are disadvantages too. Type A personalities tend to be associated with hostility, even in response to minor events; impatient with people who aren't as fast, competent, or efficient as them; and have a competitive streak that doesn't always help with relationships. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage is the way stress affects someone with a type A personality. They often set such lofty goals for themselves, that they can be difficult to achieve. People with a type A personality often also suffer from deep self-doubt.

Type B Personality

Type B personalities are essentially the opposite of type A. They tend to be less focused on achievement, less organized, more able to go with the flow, not easily stressed, patient, less caring of what people think, calm, and able to work steadily.

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