Is Type A Behavior Something We’re Born With or Something We Learn?

What is a Type A personality and what are the effects of hallmark Type A personality characteristics on aging and stress? Are personality types something that we’re born with or is it something that we pick up and learn from our environments like work, school, and home?

For experts, trying to pin-point the characteristics of Type A behavior is like Elmer Fudd catching Bugs Bunny, like trying to get a good picture of baby when she does something cute like wear her pants on her head, or like trying to catch a quark and then getting an answer as to where it just disappeared to. It’s just not going to happen. Sure I can go and google “Type A” and find a definition not far from “Of or relating to a personality or behavior pattern that is marked by tenseness, impatience, and aggressiveness…” but a lot of us can become victim to that definition now and then so it wouldn’t really help the person really trying to discern whether he or she is a “true” Type A personality. “Hey I’m the real deal! The Real Type A.”

Today, many people throw around the term Type A to pin the label on anyone who might show signs of impatience or is a workaholic. If you’re competitive you’re Type A, if you can’t sit still you’re Type A, if you show signs of hostility you’re a Type A. Basically anything and everything demonstrating a short fuse, a strong sense of urgency, aggressiveness, and strong achievement orientation (which btw are all qualities that many of us are encouraged to have…) can all be and usually is written off as Type A behavior. So as far as definitions go let’s just all agree that if you are a person being pulled in all directions constantly, stressed out and strung out with too many things to do with not enough time to do it all you’re probably well on your way to being a Type A. But don’t get too excited just yet and I don’t like to be the bearer of bad news but being Type A may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.

The Effects of Type A Behavior on Overall Wellness and Health
It has been reported that those with Type A characteristics have 84% more of a risk for high blood pressure. Also, there’s some evidence that heart disease is almost a certainty by the age of 65. Moreover, having these characteristics usually leads to placement in high-demanding and stressful jobs which can lead to other health problems like metabolic syndrome. Finally, social isolation may also be a factor because people with Type A personalities tend to focus more time and energy on their jobs then say their relationships. So we’re finally here. The answer that we’ve all been waiting for. Drum roll please…

So is Type A Behavior Something We Learn or Something That We’re Born With?
Most researchers believe that it is environmental factors that contribute to the characteristics associated with Type A and B personalities (TAB). Cultural and job structure plays a strong influential role. Many jobs place heavy demands on people to get things done faster and faster which creates anxiety and stress. Go wonder. This changes a lot of things doesn’t it? It’s like I was a Type A, I was someone important, I had a purpose in life and now I’m absolutely nothing. A big zero. So anyway, for the small portion of you, you marginalized you who have been struggling with being a Type A and are sick and tired of all the baggage it comes with don’t fret because there is a cure.

That’s right! You can change because many of the characteristics and negative effects of having a Type A personality can be remedied with small lifestyle changes. For me, I’ve had to make a career change and for a while I started riding my bike and taking city transportation and it really helped to decrease my cortisol levels and my tolerance for stress. Interestingly enough, after a while I couldn’t stand to deal with any stress in my life. That is, “Get away from me! You’re all toxic people!”

Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. Please share your suggestions for decreasing stress and getting out of the A personality type (that is if you want out) to somewhere that’s more in line with your desires for yourself. And as Bob likes to say “baby steps to the office, baby steps out the door…”


Post Author: Chad

A Nobody Just Trying to Figure Things Out.

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