Personalities can be categorized in a number of ways. Maybe you’ve taken a test based on one of these approaches, such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator or the Big Five inventory.
Dividing personalities into type A and type B is one method of describing different personalities, though this categorization can be seen as more of a spectrum, with A and B on opposite ends. It’s common to have a mix of type A and type B traits.
Generally speaking, people with a type A personality are often characterized as being:
- determined to succeed
They’re often quick and decisive, with a tendency to multitask. They may also experience high levels of stress. This led researchers in the 1950s and 1960s to suggest that people with a type A personality had a
There isn’t a firm definition of what it means to have a type A personality, and traits can vary slightly from person to person.
Generally, if you have a type A personality, you may:
- tend to multitask
- be competitive
- have a lot of ambition
- be very organized
- dislike wasting time
- feel impatient or irritated when delayed
- spend much of your time focused on work
- be highly focused on your goals
- be more likely to experience stress when faced with delays or other challenges that affect success
Having a type A personality often means you find your time very valuable. People might describe you as motivated, impatient, or both. Your thoughts and internal processes likely focus on concrete ideas and the immediate tasks at hand.
A sense of urgency around work may lead you to try tackling multiple things at once, often without a break. You may also be prone to criticizing yourself, especially if you had to leave something undone or feel you didn’t do a good job.
While a type A personality won’t necessarily have any impact on the way you look, some type A traits could show up in your physical gestures and behaviors.
You might, for example:
- speak rapidly
- eat and walk very quickly
- tap your foot or drum your fingers when waiting
- click your tongue or teeth
- grind your teeth
- often heave sighs or exhalations of annoyance
If you have a type A personality, you might tend to wear stress on your face. Maybe you often find yourself pursing your lips or clenching your teeth and jaw.
A type B personality offers a counterpart to a type A personality, but keep in mind that these types reflect more of a spectrum. Most people fall somewhere between the two extremes.
People with a type B personality tend to be more laidback. Others might describe people with this personality as being relaxed or easygoing.
If you have a type B personality, you may:
- spend a lot of time on creative pursuits or philosophical thought
- feel less rushed when completing assignments or tasks for work or school
- feel just fine if you can’t get to everything on your to-do list
Having a type B personality doesn’t mean you never feel stressed. But you may
- You experience more unwanted and uncomfortable emotions overall.
- You generally avoid opening up to others, so you’re more likely to keep that distress to yourself.
If you have a type D personality, you might:
- find you spend a lot of time worrying or ruminating on painful or distressing feelings
- tend to criticize yourself frequently
- take a more pessimistic view of the world
- feel less secure and confident in yourself
- feel nervous and uneasy in social settings
- avoid seeking the company of others, in part because you worry they’ll reject you
Keeping emotions to yourself, especially painful and unpleasant ones, can contribute to emotional distress and factor into mental health concerns like depression. Suppressing your feelings can eventually begin to affect physical health and lower your quality of life overall.
According to a
- eat a balanced diet
- get regular physical activity
- follow treatment and self-care recommendations when sick
This research review also found evidence to suggest people with a type D personality may have a higher risk of developing heart disease. This risk may, at least in part, relate to the characteristics outlined above, not to mention the heightened stress of tamping down your emotions.
Want to get more comfortable naming and expressing emotions? Our guide can help.
While there’s no “good” or “bad” personality, having a type A personality does come with its own set of pros and cons.
Type A behavior patterns can have benefits, especially at work:
- If you’re direct and decisive with a strong desire and ability to achieve your goals, you’ll probably do well in leadership roles.
- When faced with a challenge, you may prefer to take quick action instead of deliberating for hours.
- You might find it easier to push forward when a situation becomes difficult.
These qualities can have value both at work and at home.
On the other hand, type A behavior is sometimes associated with stress:
- It may feel natural to juggle several projects at a time, but this can result in stress, even if you prefer to have a lot going on at once.
- Other type A traits, such as the tendency to keep working until everything is done, only add to this stress.
- You may also be more inclined to have a short temper. If someone or something slows you down, you may react with impatience, irritation, or hostility. This can lead to problems in your personal and professional relationships.
Stress can sometimes help you push through a tough situation, but it can affect your physical and mental health if left unchecked. This may help explain, in part, why research has long suggested a link between type A traits and heart disease.
Today, evidence linking type A traits to heart disease risk remains inconsistent. Some experts have
Still, there’s no denying that chronic stress can affect health. Consistently high levels of cortisol — which you might know as the stress hormone — in your body can eventually lead to:
- sleeping difficulties
- high blood pressure
- a drop in energy
- brain fog
- trouble concentrating
- frequent illness
A few different factors help shape your personality, including your environment.
The genes you inherit from your parents can predispose you to certain personality traits, like conscientiousness or extroversion. But your caregiver’s parenting style, along with the environment you grew up in, can also play a major role.
Maybe you attended a very competitive school where you needed to spend most of your time working in order to succeed. Or perhaps your parents had high ambitions for you and pushed you to work hard to achieve those goals. You might have simply learned, from an early age, that working efficiently at tasks and keeping your belongings organized earned you praise from parents and teachers.
These experiences might have encouraged you to really shine up your type A traits. The more your motivation, focus, and decisiveness pay off, the more likely these traits will become a fixed part of your personality, well into adulthood.
Work environments that promote competition and emphasize not only speed, but also high accuracy and productivity, can bring out type A traits, too — not to mention add to ongoing tension, irritability, and stress.
If you think you have a type A personality, you don’t need to worry about trying to change it — your personality is part of your individual identity.
That said, if you deal with high levels of stress, it could be worth exploring some stress-management techniques, especially if you tend to react to tense situations with anger, irritation, or hostility.
To deal with stress, consider trying some of the following tips:
- Find you what activates you. Everyone has different things that activate their stress response. Simply identifying them before they become an issue can help you find ways to get around them or minimize your exposure to them.
- Take breaks. Even if it isn’t possible to avoid a stressful situation entirely, you can give yourself at least 15 minutes to breathe, talk with a friend, or enjoy a cup of tea or coffee. Allowing yourself some time to collect yourself can help you face a challenge with more positivity.
- Make time for exercise. Taking 15 or 20 minutes every day for activity that gets your heart rate up can help reduce stress and improve your mood. Walking or biking to work instead of driving can help you avoid rush-hour traffic and start your day with increased energy.
- Practice self-care. It’s important to take care of yourself, especially when you’re stressed. Self-care can include eating nutritious foods, being active, and getting enough sleep, as well as taking time to enjoy hobbies, be alone, and relax.
- Learn new relaxation techniques. Meditation, breathwork, yoga, and other similar activities can lower your heart rate and blood pressure, reducing stress hormones and helping you feel calmer.
- Talk with a therapist. If it’s hard to deal with stress on your own, a trained mental health professional can help you identify sources of stress and support you in learning how to deal with them.
Remember, having a type A personality isn’t automatically good or bad. Plenty of type A traits can have a positive impact on not just your work, but your ability to navigate challenging situations.
At the end of the day, what really matters is how you put those traits into practice and work to manage stress in your life. A regular self-care routine can go a long way toward improving overall well-being.
Crystal Raypole writes for Healthline and Psych Central. Her fields of interest include Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health, along with books, books, and more books. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. She lives in Washington with her son and a lovably recalcitrant cat.