Type A Personality: The Basic Traits [+Interaction Tips]

Type A personality is a behavioral pattern often encountered among high achievers who are extremely driven by success and focus on results. However, this personality type has a dark side, too—it’s very susceptible to stress and, consequently, stress-induced disorders.

In this article, we will explore the meaning of Type A personality in more depth, examine some of its common traits, compare it to other personality types, and teach you how to effectively communicate with those who have it.

Without further ado, let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • Type A personality is a pattern of behavior characterized by competitiveness, impatience, high achievement, hostility, and aggression.
  • People with a Type A personality are prone to stress and burnout, which often lead to cardiovascular diseases, hypertension, obesity, and anxiety.
  • When interacting with Type A personalities, you should be patient and efficient but also firmly assert your boundaries.
  • If you have a Type A personality, make sure to give yourself time to breathe, use positive affirmations, spend time in nature, and find joy in small, simple things.

What is a Type A Personality?

What is a Type A Personality?

Type A personality is a pattern of behavior that’s commonly associated with competitiveness, high achievement, impatience, hostility, and aggression. Due to their intense nature, people with this personality type often suffer from health conditions caused by stress and anxiety.

In fact, type A personality wasn’t initially defined by psychologists but by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman. These two set out to define traits that could be associated with an increased risk of coronary heart disease in the 1950s. Their research led to the development of two initial personalities: Type A and Type B.

Later, in 1996, Friedman delved deeper into Type A personality in his book Type A Behavior: Its Diagnosis and Treatment. Here, he defined and explored the three major traits of this personality type—impatience, free-floating hostility, and competitiveness.

Friedman and Rosenman also created a set of questions to determine whether someone had a Type A or Type B personality. These questions came with two opposing choices (e.g., “I play games to … have fun/win) and sorted participants into either Type A or Type B categories.

Other Type A Personality Tests

Over time, other Type A personality tests were developed, the most well-known being the Jenkins Activity Survey and the Framingham Type A Scale. Both are widely used to measure the presence of Type A traits and generally boast an excellent reputation.

However, according to a study conducted by Timothy W. Smith and Jennifer L. O’Keeffe of the University of Utah, the Jenkins Activity Survey is more correlated to the psychological components of Type A. On the other hand, the Framingham Type A Scale examines general emotional distress instead.

Basic Type A Characteristics Deciphered

Basic Type A personality traits include competitiveness, impatience, hostility, perfectionism, dominance, a need for achievement, and stubbornness.

In the following section, we will decipher how these characteristics manifest in Type A personalities.

#1. Competitiveness

Type A personalities are highly competitive—losing is simply not an option for them. As a result, they are willing to give their best in everything they do but are also prone to stress, anxiety, and burnout.

That’s particularly true because Type A personalities aren’t competitive only in actual competitions or work environments that foster such behavior. Instead, they view life as a competition and feel the need to be the first in everything, be it relationships or professional achievement.

This attitude can be exhausting both for them and the people around them, who rarely enjoy constant comparisons and scrutiny. Consequently, Type A personalities can inadvertently drive their loved ones away and find it difficult to create bonds with people.

#2. Time Urgency & Impatience

Type A Traits

Type A personalities are in a constant race against time, even when there’s seemingly no reason to be. They can’t stand slow, inefficient people and have very little patience for waiting in lines, at traffic lights, or for other people.

As a result, you can usually recognize them by their brisk walk, rapid talking pace, and frustrating tendency to interrupt others when they speak. The latter can be particularly damaging to their relationships, as they come across as rude, inconsiderate, and dismissive of what their loved ones have to say.

#3. Hostility

Temperamental people, who are quick to anger even at the smallest provocation, are usually classified as having Type A personalities. These individuals often see the worst in others and may be suspicious of their intentions, whether they are given a reason to be or not.

Consequently, Type A personalities can be difficult to communicate with. They frequently start fights and can become aggressive for seemingly no reason. This, coupled with their lack of understanding and compassion, can be highly off-putting, especially for more sensitive people.

#4. Achievement Orientation

Type A personalities are driven by results and achievement—in fact, they tie much of their worth to their success. This goal-oriented nature motivates them to work hard and grow as individuals, but it can also affect their self-confidence and physical well-being.

Basically, if a Type A personality feels that they haven’t made sufficient progress toward their goals, they may experience anxiety, restlessness, insecurity, and even depression. These feelings may further inhibit their growth, causing them to become stuck in a vicious cycle.

On the other hand, when they are successful, Type A personalities blossom and become confident, positive, and agreeable. In this, they are reminiscent of ENTJs and INTJs of the 16 personalities theory—these types are also highly ambitious and place great importance on achievement.

#5. Perfectionism

Considering how focused Type A personalities are on achievement, it’s hardly surprising that they also have extremely high standards. Generally speaking, people with this personality type are difficult to please and, therefore, challenging to work with, especially when they are in leadership positions.

However, their perfectionism also leads to amazing results, as they never settle for the average or mediocre. Instead, they are always thinking of ways to improve themselves and others, which can inspire positive change and growth.

Still, this perfectionism is one of the leading causes of stress, anxiety, and cardiovascular concerns Type A personalities often face. In other words, they are too tough on themselves, and this can manifest in extremely damaging ways.

#6. Need for Dominance

As a rule, Type A personalities need to dominate conversations and make their presence known when they enter a room. Thus, they often take on leadership roles in their personal and professional lives, using their confidence to inspire others to follow them.

However, this need for dominance can also be frustrating, as it leaves little room for others to shine. Their friends and loved ones may not like being forced to live in Type A’s shadow, so they might grow more resentful and distant over time.

It’s important to note that Type A personalities often overshadow people without truly realizing what they are doing. They aren’t necessarily malicious, but they do have a constant need to prove themselves, which can cause them to be inconsiderate.

#7. Stubbornness

Type A Personality Type

Type A personalities are characterized by a great deal of determination that helps them pursue their goals, whatever they may be. However, this determination can quickly transition into stubbornness, especially when things don’t go their way.

As a result, Type A individuals can be stuck in their ways and dismissive of alternative points of view, even when they would clearly benefit them. They can also become needlessly combative when challenged, often to their own detriment.

Can Being a Type A Personality Actually Affect Your Health?

Being a Type A personality can affect your health to some extent, as Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman established. Namely, people with this personality type are more likely to deal with hypertension, heart disease, and stress-induced obesity, all of which can significantly affect their quality of life.

It’s not difficult to understand why Type A personalities are so stressed, either. Out of the four existing types, they are most likely to experience burnout due to their high expectations, perfectionism, and overachieving qualities. They have a hard time relaxing and going with the flow, and that, of course, puts a strain on their health.

However, we should emphasize that a Type A personality doesn’t automatically indicate poor physical health and mental well-being. In fact, Richard E. Hicks and Yukti Mehta of Bond University concluded in their study that Type A couldn’t be reliably used to predict one’s psychological well-being.

In other words, while typical characteristics of the Type A personality can cause burnout, they can also lead to greater success and higher achievements. This, in turn, has a positive effect on self-worth, happiness, and a sense of fulfillment.

Type A vs. Other Types

Type A is one of the four basic personality types, all of which are simply marked with letters. Aside from Type A, there are also Type B, Type C, and Type D personalities, which differ in traits, temperaments, and behaviors.

Below, we explore how these personalities compare with Type A.

#1. Type A Personality vs. Type B

Compared to the Type A personality, type B is far more laid-back, flexible, and easy-going. As a result, this personality is better at stress management and less likely to suffer from heart disease and hypertension.

Common Type B personality traits include:

  • Patience
  • Flexibility
  • Creativity
  • Adaptability
  • Relaxed attitude
  • Even-tempered nature
  • Tendency to procrastinate

Therefore, Type B personalities may be correlated with perceiving types of 16 personalities, for instance, ENTPs or ENFPs. Of course, the correlation isn’t direct—both of these types have characteristics beyond Type B’s traits, just like Type B can be associated with other 16-personalities types.

#2. Type A vs. Type C

Type C may be considered the middle ground between the high-strung Type A personalities and the laid-back Type B. As a rule, Type C is focused and perfectionistic yet simultaneously calm and quiet, with a general dislike for displaying strong emotions.

Usually, type C personalities are described as:

  • Private
  • Helpful
  • Factual
  • Focused
  • Dedicated
  • Organized
  • Thoughtful
  • Conflict-avoidant

Taking everything into account, type C somewhat resembles introverted thinkers of 16 personalities, such as ISTJs or ISTPs. These two types are just as reserved and unemotional, preferring to deal with logic over feelings.

#3. Type A vs. Type D

Type A vs. Other Types

Type A and Type D personalities have one thing in common: they both experience a higher risk of mental and physical illness. However, Type D is fundamentally different from Type A since, rather than being intense and high-strung, this personality is pessimistic, anxious, and gloomy.

Typically, Type D is associated with the following traits:

  • Worry
  • Anger
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Self-doubt
  • Avoidance
  • Social inhibition

Ultimately, Type D can be correlated with many unhealthy types in 16 personalities. However, these particular traits can be found among the feeling introverts when they are at their lowest.

4 Tips on How to Interact With Type A Personality

Here are some tips on how to effectively interact with the Type A personality and foster a healthy bond with people who possess its characteristics:

  • Set clear boundaries. Type A personalities are rather domineering, and they can lose sight of other people’s comfort and needs. Thus, it’s important to be firm about limits and not let them dominate all conversations or impose their opinions on you.
  • Be patient. Although it may be frustrating that Type A personalities have little patience for others, you’ll need to take a tolerant approach with them. Try to be understanding and encourage them to be calmer and more empathetic instead of jumping to conclusions and starting unnecessary arguments.
  • Be efficient. Nothing gets on Type A’s nerves more than slow, inefficient people. In fact, wasting time is the fastest way to make this personality type lose its temper, so try to be quick and productive when they are nearby.
  • Avoid competing. With Type A personalities, anything can turn into a competition, and that’s rarely enjoyable for anyone. So, rather than let them pull you into it, make it clear that you’re not interested and that you’d prefer to collaborate instead.

4 Useful Tips for Those With a Type A Personality

Interacting with people who have a Type A personality may be challenging at times, but having Type A traits can be even more difficult due to the sheer amount of self-inflicted stress. For that reason, we’ve compiled a list of useful tips to help you relax and adopt a more laid-back approach to life.

#1. Allow Yourself Some Downtime

As important as your goals may be to you, you can sometimes put them on the back burner and take a break. Not only is that beneficial for your mental and physical health, but it will also reenergize you and perhaps even inspire you to take a new, more effective approach when you return to your work.

Of course, a high-strung person like you may struggle to truly relax even when you’re supposed to. Lying around the house or sitting on a beach might only make you feel restless and exacerbate your anxiety.

So, it’s best to find a hobby—something unrelated to your work yet engaging enough to keep your mind busy.

#2. Spend Time in Nature

Type A Personality

Nature can be healing—it’s tranquil, quiet, and undemanding, a perfect place to recharge your batteries and step away from the daily chaos. Plus, it can help you organize your thoughts and come back with a clearer picture of what you have to do.

So, whenever you can, seek out some greenery near you and spend at least half an hour simply walking and taking it in. Ideally, it should be away from the city—in the forest or up the mountain—but if that’s not possible, even a local park will do. You’ll quickly notice that you feel more relaxed and in touch with yourself.

#3. Change Your Thought Patterns

The biggest problem Type A personalities face is that they link too much of their worth to their achievements, causing them to work themselves to the bone. So, naturally, changing this attitude might result in some relief, both physically and mentally.

Of course, that’s easier said than done, but you can still affect your own thinking if you recognize the harmful thought patterns and let go of them. For instance, instead of shaming yourself for taking a break, tell yourself that it’s fine—ten minutes won’t make a difference.

Ultimately, find the kind of affirmative thoughts that work for you and repeat them frequently. It might feel strange at first, but eventually, you will train your mind to remember them automatically, and you’ll no longer feel so pressured to be “on” constantly.

#4. Try to Enjoy the Journey

Do you remember the quote, “It’s not the destination; it’s the journey?” It may not come naturally to you, but you should attempt to live by it and take joy in daily pleasures, however small they may be.

Constantly worrying over personal and professional achievements won’t amount to much, aside from increased blood pressure. So, instead, try to enjoy the road leading toward your goals. Take breaks, try out new and interesting hobbies, and have fun. In the end, even if your results aren’t entirely satisfactory, you’ll have many good memories to hold onto.

Final Thoughts

If you have a Type A personality, delving deeper into your own strengths and weaknesses can be eye-opening. Now you know why you react in a certain way and what behaviors may be off-putting to the people around you. Becoming aware of your shortcomings is the first step towards improvement.

However, Type A gives you only part of the picture—to learn more about yourself, we recommend trying the 16 personalities test. That way, you’ll gain an even deeper understanding of your own personality and have an excellent foundation for growth.

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