People typically use the term “type A personality” to describe someone they see as being domineering, competitive, reward-driven, or high-achieving. These are just some of the traits that a person with a type A personality is likely to have.

There are numerous potential benefits to having a type A personality but also some possible drawbacks. For instance, although people with this personality type may be more competitive or driven, they could also be more prone to stress and anger.

This article provides more information about the characteristics associated with a type A personality. It also looks at how a type A personality compares with type B, C, and D personalities.

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According to the American Psychological Association (APA), people with a type A personality may have the following traits:

  • competitive
  • motivated by achievement
  • operating at a more urgent pace than others
  • impatience or irritation with slowness
  • multitasking
  • aggressive, rude, or hostile
  • more likely to feel stressed

Experts describe a type B personality as the opposite of a type A personality. Individuals with this personality type tend to be much more easygoing, flexible, and laid-back. A lack of aggression and hostility is also a defining characteristic of a type B personality.

Unlike those with a type A personality, people with a type B personality do not feel the need to dominate or prove their superiority or abilities. They are less likely to become impatient, irritated, or frustrated and are much less competitive.

People with a type C personality tend to be more passive and less assertive than those with a type A personality. They may be kinder and more obedient, as well as more likely to cooperate with and help others rather than focusing on their individual goals.

A 2017 paper on the four main personality types found that people with a type C personality were typically more creative than those with other personality types. However, these individuals can have a more pessimistic view of life, which can lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and demotivation.

The characteristics of a type D personality include a predisposition to frequent negative feelings and emotions, as well as a tendency to suppress emotions and expression in social situations.

Unlike people with a type A personality, who like to be the center of attention, individuals with a type D personality are socially inhibited, less confident, and nervous in social situations. They have a higher risk of becoming socially isolated and may experience more problems with mental health.

A 2018 review found that people with a type D personality were more at risk of periods of depression or anxiety. It also concluded that they were less likely to adhere to self-care measures and recommended treatments, such as medication.

The type A personality has many positive associated characteristics, such as being:

  • creative and proactive
  • more engaged and satisfied at work
  • an effective and decisive leader

Being able to make quick decisions in challenging situations can be a useful skill, while finding satisfaction at work can be good for both physical and mental health.

On the flip side, certain traits, such as aggressive behaviors at work or a competitive approach to colleagues, can make those with a type A personality more isolated in the workplace. This can affect job satisfaction and lead to further feelings of hostility toward others.

Although the research supporting a link between type A personality and coronary heart disease is inconsistent, multiple studies have found an association between feelings of hostility and poor cardiovascular health.

A 2021 study involving people with acute coronary syndrome found that they commonly experienced feelings of hostility. Similarly, a 2018 analysis of people with cardiovascular problems found that negative emotions, such as anger and hostility, are linked to a higher incidence of coronary heart disease.

People with a type A personality are also more prone to feeling stress more frequently and for longer periods. According to the APA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stress can negatively affect the body in many ways. It can cause or contribute to:

  • tension headaches or migraine episodes
  • muscle tension and pain
  • difficulty sleeping
  • worsening of existing physical or mental health problems
  • respiratory problems, such as asthma
  • cardiovascular problems
  • chronic fatigue
  • increased substance misuse involving alcohol, tobacco, or drugs
  • metabolic disorders, such as diabetes
  • mental health problems, such as depression
  • immune disorders
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • problems with sexual desire, fertility, and pregnancy

People with a type A personality may find that their personality traits and characteristics bring them success and happiness. However, type A traits can sometimes increase stress in everyday life. People dealing with stress may benefit from:

  • Taking time to enjoy other activities outside of work: Work may bring those with a type A personality a lot of pleasure, but taking regular breaks to enjoy other hobbies and interests will help lower stress levels.
  • Connecting with colleagues, friends, family, and community: Good relationships are important for mental well-being and can help provide emotional support and a sense of belonging.
  • Focusing on self-care: Eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and exercising regularly can have a significant effect on well-being and mental health.
  • Recognizing the warning signs of chronic stress: A person can learn to spot symptoms that indicate that stress may be getting out of hand. These will vary among individuals but might include teeth grinding, poor sleep, feelings of dread, restlessness, or withdrawing from friends and family.

Type A personality is a term that can cover a wide range of personality traits. Not everyone with a type A personality will have every characteristic trait.

Research does not consistently support the theory that people with a type A personality are more prone to coronary heart disease. However, hostility, anger, and stress, which many people with this personality type experience, may cause physical or mental health problems.

People may find that practicing self-care, connecting with others, and understanding the physical warning signs of stress help them manage the less positive traits of the type A personality type.