Having a type A personality means more than just a drive for success and a resolute work ethic.

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Personalities are vastly different. Even little things, like the amount of attention you pay to a situation, can speak to your uniqueness.

If everyone’s so different, it may feel strange lumping people into two basic personality types: A and B.

Type A and B personality theory was developed in the 1950s by two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman and R.H. Rosenman, to discover possible causes of coronary disease.

People with the high-stress levels predisposing them to coronary disease were classified as type A.

If you had a more relaxed, easygoing personality, and didn’t experience the same effects of stress, you were classified as type B.

Over the last 50 years, as the study of personality traits has evolved, some experts have added type C and type D into this personality theory.

Other frameworks, like the Big Five model or Myers-Briggs, have also refined common personality traits.

Calling type A personality traits “high stress” isn’t truly accurate. While these traits may make you more likely to find yourself in stressful situations, they don’t mean you’re destined to live a life of anxiety and stress.

In fact, type A personalities often thrive in fast-paced environments. They can be incredibly goal-oriented and self-driven.

While there’s no definitive list of traits that classify you as type A, with this personality you may be more:

  • ambitious
  • goal-oriented
  • risk-taking
  • competitive
  • aggressive
  • assertive
  • impatient
  • dominant
  • irritable
  • stubborn

Alternatively, if you’re more of a type B personality, you might be more:

  • creative
  • easygoing
  • accepting
  • flexible
  • accommodating
  • passive

Some people have strong features of both personality types, and may be classified as type AB.

Type A personality could incline you toward certain behaviors. You may focus on work and career, for example, even when there’s no pressure from management for working around the clock.

Other characteristics may include:

  • having high expectations for yourself and others
  • always being early or right on time
  • placing a high value on winning, even in friendly competition
  • expressions of anger and frustration if things don’t go as planned
  • fervent arguing of opinions and positions
  • unwillingness to wait for others
  • obsession with details
  • communicating in blunt, straightforward ways

If type A personality traits are contributing to stress in your life, you may also notice physical, stress-related symptoms.

Even now, the debate about personality and health continues.

Mixed findings

There’s been controversy over the correlation of personality, health, and behavior.

A study from the late 1980s suggested people with type A personality exhibited less self-control.

Other studies drew links between the personality type and cardiovascular disease as originally studied, but then a large study from 2006 found no link between the two.

Also, investigative research revealed that early studies about type A personality and cardiovascular disease risk were heavily funded by the tobacco industry, so it could downplay the concerns about smoking and health.

Potential mental health links

One 2011 study found links to type A personality identification and mental health conditions such as:

However, the study may be too small and simplified to draw broad-brush conclusions from.

Still, older research also suggested type A personalities were more likely to experience negative mental health experiences than type B personalities, such as:

These conditions might have increased the chances of poor physical health or the use of unhealthy coping mechanisms like substance misuse.

Type A and your heart: What we do know

While type A personality may not be as much to blame for health conditions as previously thought, experts do believe there may be a connection between personality and overall health.

A 2018 research review suggests personality traits can have a positive or negative impact on cardiovascular diseases.

Not only might you have traits that increase your chances of cardiovascular diseases, but you may also have “cardioprotective” traits, like optimism and conscientiousness, researchers suggest.

Type A personality is often stereotyped as people with controlling or abusive behaviors.

However, there’s no evidence that shows higher abusive behaviors in people with type A personality over other personality types.

Type A “no nonsense” methods can be seen in all areas of life, and they can be as supportive as they can be direct.

Here are some examples of type A personality behaviors in everyday interactions:

With ambitions

  • leading a project group to beat a deadline
  • watching investments with laser focus for high-risk, high-reward payouts
  • going above and beyond job requirements to meet a personal standard of excellence
  • encouraging a higher level of work in those around them
  • pushing team members to improve credentials or seek continuing education
  • wanting to be known as the best in the business
  • strictly monitoring break times and office antics

With loved ones

  • planning vacation details extensively, including “backup plans”
  • looking for the best training and opportunities for children’s sports or hobbies
  • encouraging family members to be the best in school, work, and recreation
  • extensively watching and planning finances
  • being quick to argue before hearing the other side of a debate
  • experiencing frustration when a family member isn’t meeting perceived potential
  • disapproving of activities they view as unproductive, like playing video games

Having a type A personality doesn’t make you an unfriendly or unkind person. In fact, people with type A personality might be the backbone of a family, or the motivator on a job.

While others may not always know how to take your direct approach to life, your ambitions and drive often bring you great success.

If you feel as though you may have personality traits that are affecting your physical or mental health, help is available.

A mental health care professional can work with you to identify and modify behaviors that may be impairing your daily life.