Matters of the Heart: Whither the Type A Personality?

The Huffington Post:

I first studied psychological science in the 1970s, and one of the most popular ideas at that time was the Type A personality. Two cardiologists, Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman, had made the case that a certain type of person — competitive, driven, hurried, easily angered — had a much higher risk of heart attack and heart disease than did easy-going types, which they labeled Type B. The idea of Type A personality took hold in the public imagination, and it’s still heard in the common parlance today.

The concept was scientifically controversial from the start, but it did provoke a lot of debate — and an explosion of research. Indeed, the notion of a heart attack-prone personality played an important part in the emergence of health psychology and behavioral medicine as legitimate approaches to understanding disease. But the Type A idea itself soon began to erode, and eventually disappeared from serious scientific discussion.

Should the Type A personality be consigned to the dust heap of failed scientific theories? That would be a mistake, according to psychological scientist Karen Matthews of the University of Pittsburgh, who sees much of value in that original, crude concept. In an article forthcoming in the journal Perspectives on Psychological Science, Matthews traces the maturation of the Type A personality from its origins to its more nuanced form today.

Read the whole story: The Huffington Post

Wray Herbert is an author and award-winning journalist who writes two popular blogs for APS, We’re Only Human and Full Frontal Psychology. Follow Wray on Twitter @wrayherbert.

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