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What It Means to Have ‘Type A’ Personality Traits

By Dr. Saul McLeod, updated 2022

Nội dung chính

    What It Means to Have ‘Type A’ Personality TraitsResearch BackgroundType A Behavior Pattern (TABP)Type B & C PersonalitiesEmpirical ResearchResearch EvaluationTheoretical EvaluationWhich dimension of the Type A behavior pattern is most predictive of heart disease?Which tendency of people with a type A behavior pattern is strongly associated with heart disease quizlet?What about a Type A personality has the strongest correlation with heart disease?How Does positive affect differ from optimism?

This type of personality concerns how people respond to stress. However, although its name implies a personality typology, it is more appropriately conceptualized as a trait continuum, with
extremes Type-A and Type-B individuals on each end.

Type A personality is characterized by a constant feeling of working against the clock and a strong sense of competitiveness. Individuals with a Type A personality generally experience a higher stress level, hate failure and find it difficult to stop working, even when they have achieved their goals.

Research Background

Friedman and Rosenman (both cardiologists) actually discovered the Type A behavior by accident after they realized that their waiting-room chairs needed to be reupholstered much sooner than anticipated.

When the upholsterer arrived to do the work, he carefully inspected the chairs and noted that the upholstery had worn in an unusual way: “there’s something different about your patients, I’ve never seen anyone wear out chairs like this.”

Unlike most patients, who wait patiently,
the cardiac patients seemed unable to sit in their seats for long and wore out the arms of the chairs. They tended to sit on the edge of the seat and leaped up frequently.

However, the doctors initially dismissed this remark, and it was only five years later that they began their formal research.

Friedman and Rosenman (1976) labeled this behavior Type A personality. They subsequently conduced research to show that people with type A personality run a higher risk of heart disease and
high blood pressure than type Bs.

Although originally called ‘Type A personality’ by Friedman and Rosenman it has now been conceptualized as a set of behavioral responses collectively known as Type A behavior Pattern.

Type A Behavior Pattern (TABP)

Competitiveness

Type A individuals tend to be very competitive and self-critical. They strive toward goals without feeling a sense of joy in their efforts or accomplishments.

Interrelated
with this is the presence of a significant life imbalance.  This is characterized by a high work involvement.  Type A individuals are easily ‘wound up’ and tend to overreact. They also tend to have high blood pressure (hypertension).

Time Urgency and Impatience

Type A personalities experience a constant sense of urgency: Type A people seem to be in a constant struggle against the clock.

Often, they quickly become impatient with
delays and unproductive time, schedule commitments too tightly, and try to do more than one thing a time, such as reading while eating or watching television.

Hostility

Type A individuals tend to be easily aroused to anger or hostility, which they may or may not express overtly. Such individuals tend to see the worse in others, displaying anger, envy and a lack of compassion.

When this behavior is expressed overtly (i.e., physical
behavior) it generally involves aggression and possible bullying (Forshaw, 2012). Hostility appears to be the main factor linked to heart disease and is a better predictor than the TAPB as a whole.

Type B & C Personalities

Type B personality is characterized by a relaxed, patient, and easy-going nature. Individuals with a Type B personality work steadily, enjoying achievements, but do not tend to become stress when goals are not achieved.

People with Type B
personality tend to be more tolerant of others, are more relaxed than Type A individuals, more reflective, experience lower levels of anxiety and display a higher level of imagination and creativity.

Type C personalities are detail oriented, people pleasers, passive and patient. They suppress wants, needs and feelings.

The Type C personality has difficulty expressing emotion and tends to
suppress emotions, particularly negative ones such as anger.  This means such individual also display ‘pathological niceness,’ conflict avoidance, high social desirability, over compliance and patience.

Empirical Research

Friedman & Rosenman (1976) conducted a longitudinal study to test their hypothesis that Type A personality could predict incidents of heart disease. The Western Collaborative Group Study followed 3154 healthy men, aged between thirty-nine and
fifty-nine for eight and a half years.

Participants were asked to complete a questionnaire.

Examples of questions asked by Friedman & Rosenman:

Do you feel guilty if you use spare time to relax?Do you need to win in order to derive enjoyment from games and sports?Do you generally move, walk and eat rapidly?Do you often try to do more than one thing a
time?

From their responses, and from their manner, each participant was put into one of two groups:

Type A behavior: competitive, ambitious, impatient, aggressive, fast talking.

Type B behavior: relaxed, non-competitive.

According to the results of the questionnaire 1589 individuals were classified as Type A personalities, and 1565 Type B.

Findings

The researchers found that more than twice as many Type A people as Type B people developed coronary heart disease. When the figures were adjusted for smoking, lifestyle, etc. it still emerged that Type A people were nearly twice as likely to develop heart disease as Type B people.

For example, eight years later 257 of the participants had developed coronary heart disease.
By the end of the study, 70% of the men who had developed coronary heart disease (CHD) were Type A personalities.

The Type A personality types behavior makes them more prone to stress-related illnesses such as CHD, raised blood pressure, etc.

Such people
are more likely to have their ”flight or fight” response set off by things in their environment.

As a result, they are more likely to have the stress hormones present, which over a long period of time leads to a range of stress-related illnesses.

Research Evaluation

Limitations of the study involve problems with external validity.  Because the study used an all male sample it is
unknown if the results could be generalized to a female population, who have different ways to giảm giá with stress and might be less vulnerable.

Studies carried out on women have not shown such a major difference between Type A and Type B and subsequent health. This may suggest that different coping strategies are just as important as personality.

The study was able to control for other important
variables, such as smoking and lifestyle. This is good as it makes it less likely that such extraneous variables could confound the results of the study.

The study does not show which trait of personality type A leads to CHD. Matthew and Haynes (1996) found that hostility was most associated with CHD.

Dembroski et al. (1989) reanalysed the results of the study and found that ratings on hostility were good predictors of CHD. The participants of the original study were followed up by
Carmelli (1991) and she found a very high rate of death caused by CHD in the participants with high hostility scores.

Theoretical Evaluation

However, there are a number of problems with the type A and B approach. Such approaches have been criticized for attempting to describe complex human experiences within narrowly defined parameters. Many people may not fit easily into a type A or B person. Also, in
individualist cultures, men are socialised to display Type A behaviour.

A longitudinal study carried out by Ragland and Brand (1988) found that as predicted by Friedman Type A men were more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease.  Interestingly, though, in a follow up to their study, they found that of the men who survived coronary events Type A men died a rate much lower
than type B men.

We are not sure type A or type B we tend to vary along the continuum depending on the circumstances and the situation we are in. Some individual with type A personality are driven and well-balanced individuals unlikely to develop CHD while some type Bs are in fact suppressing their hostility and their ambitions, these people are likely to develop CHD despite being classified as type B.

The major problem with the Type A and Type B theory is actually determining which
factors are influencing coronary heart disease. Some research (e.g., Johnston, 1993) has concentrated on hostility, arguing that the Type A behavior pattern is characterized by underlying hostility which is a major factor leading to coronary heart disease.

Other research has investigated the way that type A people experience and cope with stress, which is the major factor leading to coronary heart disease. It would seem that a much more sophisticated model is needed to predict coronary
heart disease than Friedman and Rosenman’s Type A & Type B approach. Indeed, the personality type A could be the result of prolonged exposure stress.

How to reference this article:How to reference this article:

McLeod, S. A. (2022). Type A personality. Simply Psychology. .simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html

APA
Style References

Carmelli, D., Dame, A., Swan, G., & Rosenman, R. (1991). Long-term changes in Type A behavior: A 27-year follow-up of the Western Collaborative Group Study. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 14(6), 593-606.

Dembroski, T. M., MacDougall, J. M., Costa, P. T., & Grandits, G. A. (1989). Components of hostility as predictors of sudden death and myocardial infarction in the Multiple Risk Factor Intervention Trial. Psychosomatic Medicine.

Forshaw, M., & Sheffield, D. (Eds.). (2012). Health psychology in action. John Wiley & Sons.

Johnston, D. W. (1993). The current status of the coronary prone behavior pattern. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 86(7), 406.

Ragland, D. R., & Brand, R. J. (1988). Coronary heart disease mortality in the Western Collaborative Group Study. Follow-up experience of 22 years. American Journal of Epidemiology, 127(3), 462-475.

Rosenman,
R. H., Brand, R. J., Sholtz, R. I., & Friedman, M. (1976). Multivariate prediction of coronary heart disease during 8.5 year follow-up in the Western Collaborative Group Study. The American Journal of Cardiology, 37(6), 903-910.

How to reference this article:How to reference this article:

McLeod, S. A. (2022). Type A personality. Simply Psychology. .simplypsychology.org/personality-a.html

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Which dimension of the Type A behavior pattern is most predictive of heart disease?

Extensive research clearly suggests that the anger/hostility dimension of Type A behavior pattern may be one of the most important factors in the development of heart disease.

Which tendency of people with a type A behavior pattern is strongly associated with heart disease quizlet?

a behavior pattern characterized by impatience, competitiveness, aggressiveness, and time urgency. Hostility, a component of this, is strongly linked to a higher risk of coronary heart disease.

What about a Type A personality has the strongest correlation with heart disease?

Hostility appears to be the main factor linked to heart disease and is a better predictor than the TAPB as a whole.

How Does positive affect differ from optimism?

Optimism involves feeling states, whereas positive affect involves expectations. Positive affect involves feeling states, whereas optimism involves expectations. Positive affect is more scientific than optimism.
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