More Than Just Type A Personality: The ABCs Of The Personality Types

Vijai P. Sharma, Ph.D


Many people are aware of type A personality. Type A has become part of group conversation. Friends fondly describe a friend as type A and partners describe their partner as type A to understand and explain their relentless nature.

What is not so well known that in addition to type A, there are also type B and type C personality. In this article we will discuss all three types of personalities. You are now invited to review the ABCs of the personalities.

This article describes the personality characteristics of type A, type B and type C. After the description of each personality type, the three types are compared on a number of important personal and social characteristics.

We will begin with the salient characteristic of each type beginning with type A.

Salient Characteristics of Type A Personality

In 1950 Meyer Friedman, R.H. Rosenbaum and colleagues classified two personality types, Type A and Type B.

Friedman described Type A personality as having a higher risk of "coronary disease." Type A personalities are very hurried, impatient and can be hostile and aggressive when it comes to relationships. They are very cynical of the world feeling that it is "a dog eat dog world." Type A's are very competitive, and tend to be tense and agitated when it comes to work. They have poor impulse control and feel that they always need to be active in something.

Type A personality is a mixture of left and right brain hemispheric dominance. When it comes to emotions they express their anger with outburst and verbal comments, display strong emotional reactions, can be unpredictable with emotional consistency, and experience negative emotions. They may let their guard down only for "business prospects and meetings." Type A's are always watching others and can react in a hostile manner towards others. They like to have control over everything so they tend to be team leaders but are difficult to please. They do not disclose personal information unless it is relevant, and if they are criticized they can become quite hostile and be critical of the feedback given.

Type A personalities are risk takers, rigid and inflexible, and tend to be the boss, leader, or company heads. They are prone to heart disease.

Salient Characteristics of Type B Personality

Type B personalities live in the "here and now," in the moment. In regards to time they wait, "I can wait this is not the right time." Then tend to be friendly and feel that the world is good and bad but there are more good people in the world than bad people. Type B people compete with themselves; more saying "I can do better than before."

They are intuitive, spontaneous, and patient. They are right brained and introspective in that they are motivated by their intuition and try not to be judgmental. When it comes to change they see change as a rhythm of the universe and believe that all change is inevitable. They feel that they can control themselves more than anything else, and that sharing is learning.

Type Bs are open to criticism, "I understand that is how you see it," and they try to make others feel accepted and at ease, "I'll help you just let me know." When they are angry they use humor subtly to make their point, but they are angry about the issue not the person. They can be more accepting of emotions and tend to go with the mood at the moment.

They are supportive of others and more likely to express positive feelings. They have a lesser chance of stress related disorders. They have occupations in the areas of travel, sightseeing marketer, sales, helping professions. They are adaptable and flexible and think that "we can all get along."

Salient Characteristics of Type C Personality

Type C personalities like to take as much time as they need and want. They are future oriented. They like to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision. They tend to be more left brained and are more patient.

They are both introspective and altra-spective. They like to study themselves and others with some level of diligence.

They analyze and try to figure out what to expect from future events. Abrupt change can cause a problem. The change has to be calculated, anticipated and factored in.

They try to be fair and objective. They are uncomfortable with personal and intimate conversation.

They are very sensitive to criticism. When they feel angry with some one or about something, they tend to be more resentful. They are more likely to give the "silent treatment" to the person with whom they are angry.

If people of Type C personality want to be leaders, they will need to be more open and receptive in their transactions with other people and in their participation in staff meetings and Board room deliberations.

Regarding emotions they tend to suppress their feelings but are serious in their approach. They tend to have jobs in psychology, market analysis, technical jobs, and computers.

They are prone to cancer. Some times, I wonder if the letter "C" in Type C personality stand for "cancer" or just to signify the historical order--type C personality came to be identified after type A and type B.

They have a strong aversion to risk taking and are inflexible. They believe that if something can go wrong that it will.

Comparison of personalities on important characteristics

We have prepared a comparative table so you can see where each personality type, namely, Type A, Type B or Type C stand on a set of characteristics. These characteristics are as follows: Time Factor; Relationships; World View; Competitiveness; At Work; Time Orientation; Patience Level; Brain's Hemispheric Dominance; Self-Observation/ Insight; Attitude to Change; Drive for Control; Personal Disclosure; Criticism/Feedback from others; As a Team Leader or Team Member; Anger Expression; Emotional Reaction on the Body; Emotional Consistency; Emotional Expression; Emotional Direction: Stress-Related Medical Disorders; Job/Occupation; Attitude Towards Others; Risk Tolerance and Flexibility.

The ABC's of Personality

Time Factor Time urgency, run and go before it's too late Be "here and now", in the moment Take as much time as needed
Relationships Hostile, aggressive Friendly. We have more in common. "I make mistakes too." Have to be balanced, cautious, careful (somewhat objective and detached)
World View Cynical, "It's a dog eat dog world", cut throat competition out there. Good and bad, but there are more good people than bad people. People are nice. Give them space. More relaxed approach Analyze them and understand them. Do an inventory. People have weak points and strong points. Study both
Competitiveness Aggressively competitive must win, winning is everything Compete with self, I can do better than before Got to be right and accurate. Being right and accurate is everything
At Work They work with great deal of tension. They are somewhat agitated all the time They work with relaxed concentration They are sticklers for details. They are slow, cautious and methodical
Impulse Control Poor impulse control especially in expression of anger or risk taking behavior, they can be impulsive Intuitive, spontaneous Weigh, judge, evaluate pros and cons. Predictable and dependable. Doesn't answer right on the spot. Doesn't "shoot from the hip."
Time Orientation Ought to be doing something all the time, thinking about future In the moment, can wait in due time one day at a time, "I can wait, this is not the right time" Future oriented, outcome oriented, delay the response for the right time
Patience Level Impatient Patient Patient
Brain's Hemispheric Dominance Emotional, brain mixed left and right hemispheric dominance Right brained, creative, spontaneous Left brain dominance, information, data, reasoning, logic is everything
Self-Observation/ Insight "Altra-spective," watching and observing others Introspective, go by intuition, try to be not judgmental Introspective and Altraspective for more content on self and others
Attitude to Change Can get hostile towards others or react strongly, emotionally at heart blood level Change is the rhythm of the universe, it will all workout, all change is inevitable Can be ruffed up by abrupt change. Change has to be factored in calculation. Where did my planning or data go wrong?
Drive For Control Others may describe them as "control freak" You can't control much of anything, except yourself Try to be fair and objective, being right rather than control
Personal Disclosure Disclosure done only when it's likely to be productive or relevant for end results. But they may expect others to disclose They believe sharing is caring and learning about how others feel part of their moral code. Uncomfortable with personal and intimate conversation. They are circumspect about their true reaction and hide their raw emotions
Criticism/Feedback from others Can be hostile and critical of the feed-back given by others Open to criticism ("I understand that is how you see it") They socialize. They find a way to respond warmly and deflect the criticism from self Very sensitive to criticism. Can suffer from "analysis paralysis, get too bogged down by details
Team Leader/ Member Can be fastidious, difficult to please, tough as a boss, may lead by dominating and intimidating others. Make others feel accepted and at ease. "I'll help you, just let me know." Need to become more open and receptive to others, set limits to your data collection & analysis. Should socialize a little more. Loosen up! They have need to conform, give up easily, cannot say what they really want to say.
Anger expression Angry outburst, sharp criticism, verbal Use more subtle humor to make a point or to express anger. Anger is about the issue and not with the person. More resentful, and may give silent treatment, and suffer inside
Emotional Reaction on the Body Can have a great cardio vascular response to negative emotions, both outwardly and inwardly. May display strong reaction. May be more accepting and less disturbed on the inside Suppress emotional reaction and may appear calm on the outside. At the worst they suppress and deny their true feelings. Take anger in, which can impair the immune function.
Emotional Consistency Unpredictable, volatile, visceral response May go with the mood at the moment, generous, out the way, be positive Consistently measure response, don't give into your emotions
Emotional Expression Only for business prospects and meetings they may take their guard down. Supportive of others and put them at ease. They can be good for radio and TV profession because of high level of empathy Jobs as psychology specialist, market analysts, researcher as well as good for technical jobs, computers systems, and accountancy.
Emotional Direction Experience of negative emotions or expression may be inhibited. More likely to express positive feeling Unable to express emotions especially negative ones.
Stress-Related Medical Disorders Heart disease likely Lesser change of stress-related disorders. "Cancer prone personality."
Job/Occupation Bosses, leader's, company heads Party, fun, travel, sightseeing, marketer, team, people, sales, see them helping profession. Serious in their approach, "deep", "sensitive", reflective
Attitude towards others Has to be modified and controlled. It can get really brutal. "Others are out to get you" We all can get along If something can go wrong it will. "Be cautious of people."
Risk Tolerance Risk takers Adaptable Strong aversion to risk taking. They have to feel certain of the results
Flexibility Rigid, inflexible Flexible inflexible

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Copyright 2006, Mind Publications 
Posted October 2006


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