we realize that it would be pretty unreasonable to ask you to
consider changing your personality as a means of reducing the
stress in your life, we think we would be remiss if we did not
let you know about some important issues in the connection between
personality and stress.
Like other important scientific discoveries, this came
while something else was being investigated. Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman,
cardiologists interested in figuring out what caused heart problems,
made a major breakthrough when it became clear to them that their patients
shared some of the same personality characteristics.
Their research, reported to the general public in the
book Type A Behavior and Your Heart (1974), pointed toward two
basic personality types, which you will see are diametrically opposed
to each other. They labeled the two personalities Type A and Type B,
and we have summarized them below.
Driven by ambition
Sense of time urgency
Free-floating (but well rationalized) hostility
Attributes are the mirror opposite of Type
More genuinely easygoing
Able to separate work from play
Not rushed or impatient
in the interests of our work together, the crucial issue about
Type A and Type B personalities is that
are only around 1/7 as likely as Type A's are to have a
heart attack or to develop heart disease.
this is serious business. And just to make matters a little more
interesting for you, we also should point out that:
of us are a blend of Type A and Type B, as opposed to everyone's
being a "pure type" and
Type A's face significant health risks compared to Type
B's, this does not mean that Type A characteristics are
useless and Type B characteristics are desirable in all
situations. For example, when it is time for the next school
fundraiser, would you rather have a bunch of Type A's or
Type B's out in the community selling the product?
The bottom line issue is that it is possible for Type
A's to learn some Type B behaviors (Friedman & Ulmer, 1984)
as to put them less at risk for the kind of perpetual emotional
arousal -- and related stress -- which over the long run can
cause serious health problems. Whether by exercise, relaxation,
dietary choices and eating behaviors, or other means, it is
possible for a person to participate in preventive maintenance
even while having a hefty dose of Type A characteristics.