What Is a Type A Personality?

Type A personality describes a type of competitive individual with a high response to stress. Compared with individuals who exhibit Type B or C behavior, Type As tend to be more driven, hostile and impatient.

The Type A- and Type B-personality theory was first described in the 1950s by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman. After their 8 1/2-year study of men ages 35 to 59, they described individuals with Type A behavior as having twice the risk of coronary heart disease compared with other individuals.

Type A personalities tend to be very driven, focused and goal-oriented. These behaviors help Type As become successful at work. They may also be natural leaders, planners and participants in many different activities. Type A personalities tend to be perfectionists who want tasks accomplished well and efficiently. They are competitive and strive to win.

Unfortunately, Type As are also more likely to feel stressed. They can become emotional and prone to breaking down. Because of their perfectionism, Type As tend to be more self-critical. Their impatience may lead to hostility and create problems at work and in personal relationships. Type A personalities' extreme response to stress makes them more prone to heart attack and heart disease compared with their Type B and Type C counterparts.