Psychology and medical experts have found three distinct personality types that are closely related to physical health and disease.
A team of cardiologists in the 50’s, Drs. Meyer Friedman and R. H. Rosenman observed that many of their coronary heart diseases shared common behavioral and temperamental characteristics. They set off to study these patients and conducted a seminal research that illustrates two distinctly different personality types- the generally tense and stressed Type A personality and the commonly easygoing and laidback Type B. The personality types describe two sets of behavioral and emotional tendencies that were found to raise or lower an individual’s risk of acquiring coronary heart disease or other health-related issues.
Psychologist Dr. Johan Denollet, of Tilburg University in the Netherlands in early 2000 described a third personality type, namely Type D, where D stands for distressed, that also predicts heart disease. These are people who have a negative affect (worry, depressed mood, anxiety, irritability, anger), tend to suppress their emotions, and also present with social inhibition. That means that they feel inhibited, tense, uncomfortable, insecure in social situations. They scan their environment for “potential danger” and avoid social situations, feeling that their social environment is unsupportive.
If you answered mostly “yes” to these questions, you are probably a Type A personality
- Do you need to win to enjoy games, sports, leisure activities?
- Do you get easily stressed?
- Do you have trouble falling asleep or wake up many times during the night?
- Do you often feel tense?
- Do you usually talk, walk, eat fast?
- Do you feel that things at work, home, your chores are urgent?
- Do you have trouble tolerating incompetence?
- Are you overly critical of yourself?
- Are you most of the time trying to beat the clock?
- Do you often do many things at the same time?
- Do you tend to schedule your commitments too tightly?
- Do you lose your temper easily?
Type B Characteristics
If you answered mostly “yes” to these questions, you are probably a Type B personality
- Do you tend to plan things and work at an even pace?
- Do you tolerate change and adapt to situations easily?
- Are you flexible to the point of procrastinating?
- Do you think you are easygoing?
- Do you enjoy being in social situations with large groups?
- Do you love exploring ideas and concepts more than executing them?
- Are you accepting of failure in yourself and others?
- Do you enjoy games, sports, leisure activities for the fun of them, without being competitive?
- Do you relax easily?
- Do you tend to think about how you feel?
- Do you take into consideration other people’s feelings when making decisions?
- Do you think you are patient and you don’t lose your temper easily?
Type D Characteristics
If you answered mostly “yes” to these questions, you are probably a Type D personality
- Do you get easily irritated?
- Are you a loner?
- Do you feel unhappy often?
- Do you get stressed easily?
- Do you find it difficult to make small talk?
- Do you usually have a “half empty glass” approach to situations?
- Do you feel tense often?
- Do you find yourself being in a bad mood most of the time?
- Do you find it hard talking about how you feel?
- Do you find it difficult being around and socializing with people?
- Do you find it hard to cope with change?
- Do you become argumentative and hostile easily?
How to Soften Type A and D Characteristics and Manage the Behaviors Associated with Them
Can we change our personality? That’s a big question that doesn’t have an easy answer. However, the certain thing is that we can all learn to manage our behavior and emotions, thus changing our everyday experience. People with type A or D personality can learn stress management techniques. They can learn to change the way they think, so that they become less pessimistic and, hopefully, more optimistic. They can find leisure activities that provide inner peace and calm (i.e., gardening, painting, tending an aquarium, etc.). More on those activities on a different post soon.
A Word from Doctor Liza
The above personality descriptions do not mean that one personality type is “good” while another is “bad.” If you are looking to soften some of your personality A or D characteristics that means that you want to reduce your stress levels, relax more, feel at ease around people and enjoy your life more.
If you happen to be a type B personality, but have to deal with a personality A or D, a spouse, friend, coworker, you may want to consider their characteristics to make your interactions easier. Acknowledging that you are more laidback and relaxed, you may need to practice assertiveness when interacting with them. You can also set healthy boundaries, practice effective communication and conflict resolution skills.