How to Tell if You Have a Type A or Type B Personality, According to a Psychologist

From knowing your Myers-Briggs Type to your star sign and chronotype, personalities can be categorised in a variety of ways. But do you know whether you have a Type A or Type B personality?

This theory describes contrasting personalities on opposite ends of the spectrum, which psychologists often use when observing how an individual’s mental state affects their physical health.

Here’s everything you need to know about these personality types so you can identify which one you associate with. 

How was the Type A and Type B personality theory discovered?

According to Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno, this theory was discovered by accident by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman in the 1950s. 

“Friedman and Rosenman initially came across the idea of personality types when they realised the chairs in their waiting room needed to be upholstered,” Sokarno tells Bed Threads Journal.

“The man that was assigned the job of re-doing the chair’s upholstery noted the upholstery had worn in an unusual way, which was not typical of regular waiting room chairs. Unlike most patients who tend to wait patiently, Friedman and Rosenman’s cardiac patients seemed unable to sit in their seats for long and when they did, they tended to sit on the edges of the seat. They also wore out the arms of the chairs.”

Doctors initially dismissed this thinking, and it was only until five years later when formal research on what is now known as ‘Type A personality’ was conducted. 

“What they were able to surmise was that people with Type A personality (for example, cardiac patients who sat in their waiting room) ran a higher risk of heart disease and high blood pressure because of their high stress lifestyle when compared to other people (Type Bs),” Sokarno explains.

What is the difference between Type A and Type B personality?

There are various tests you can take online to determine what personality type you are, but Sokarno explains there is a simpler way of figuring this out yourself.

“Imagine a Type A Personality and a Type B Personality are both set with the task of climbing a mountain. Type A will get to work running up the mountain at full speed, driven by ambition and competition, and often placing a lot of stress on themselves, both physically and mentally. They’ll see the end goal of reaching the top of the peak before Type B (and anyone else) reach it as a driving force. It’s something they can push themselves and gain a sense of achievement when finishing first on the leaderboard.”

On the other hand, Type B is a lot more relaxed in their approach. 

“The idea of climbing a mountain still appeals to them, but they are driven by other things. While that doesn’t mean they lack ambition or the will to achieve, they may just go about it another way. Instead of running full tilt up the mountain, they might casually stroll and stop on the way to take in the view. They’ll marvel in the nature, have a chat with a fellow hiker and not feel any pressure to reach the top before anyone else. They’re not necessarily motivated to win, rather to just enjoy the ride.”

What does Type A personality mean?

The character traits Sokarno say Type As identify with are as follows:

  • Competitive
  • Goal-orientated
  • Leaders
  • Impatient
  • Proactive
  • High Achievers
  • Hostile and Aggressive

What does Type B personality mean?

The character traits Type Bs identify with are as follows: 

  • Relaxed 
  • Patient 
  • Easy Going
  • Creative
  • Flexible
  • Carefree

Can you be both Type A and Type B? 

“It’s important to note that humans are complex and variable, each with their own unique set of personality traits,” Sokarno notes. “What’s more, a person’s personality can shift significantly over time. Therefore, some people may find themselves identifying with a little bit of both Type A and Type B, depending on the circumstance or what it relates to. 

“This is completely normal and in these cases, it might be helpful to look into some of the more detailed personality inventories. While they’re a little more complex, they can help you gain a deep understanding of your personality and your approach to life.”

Nancy Sokarno is a psychologist at Lysn. Lysn is a digital mental health company with world class wellbeing technology which helps people find their best-fit professional psychologist whilst being able to access online tools to improve their mental health.'

Did you know your sleep position also says a lot about your personality. Here's what each position means.

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