Type A, Type B, and resolutions

12 01 2017

There are mainly two different personality types, according to one theory, – Type A and Type B.

Type A: competitive, ambitious, impatient/ time-urgent, aggressive, fast talking.

Type B: relaxed, non-competitive, one thing at a time, express feelings.

Like many theories, this also is subjected to lot of criticism. Maybe rightly so, since it indeed feels like a rigid and broad classification of personalities. And of course, there are also questions on the validity of the original study and the results. Let’s not go deeper into that now. For our current discussion, I just  want to take it at its face value. Given the classification and the associated descriptions, I’m just curious to understand the quality of life of Type A and Type B people.

There are some studies on the health implications suggesting that twice as many Type A people, with their more aggressive attitude, are likely to suffer from coronary heart disease compared to Type B people. Of course, since the subject population was restricted to middle-aged males, the results might not be generalized across gender and other factors.

Also, it is evident that Type B people enjoy lower stress levels compared to Type A people. With their focus more on the game, rather than on winning or losing, in contrast to Type As, Type Bs tend to take it slow, enjoy the achievement when it happens and don’t fret much when things don’t work out as planned. This sure seems like a better way to live.

What about happiness? While I didn’t find any studies on this aspect in my cursory search efforts, I would like to take a stab at it drawing on some happiness science. There are five major toxic mental habits that lie at the root of much of our unhappiness –

  • Perfectionism
  • Materialism
  • Maximizing
  • Social comparison
  • Frazzle (overwhelming lifestyle)

While, it can’t be just concluded or reasonably argued that any or all of these can be characterized as either Type A or Type B traits, I would think Type As are a little more prone to these vices. Hmm!

There are also connotations that Type A people may also be miserable in their strive  towards achieving more. Are they? And I wonder whether they do really end up achieving, contributing, and being successful more than their counterparts? It definitely looks like. But of course,  the Type B traits of “relaxing” and “non-competitive” doesn’t mean lethargic or unproductive. Just to be clear. Type Bs tend to procrastinate though.

All in all, things look pretty dismal for Type A people. But let’s not come to hasty conclusions. I’m sure both types have things to learn from each other and they complement each other well. Type As, as long as they learn to manage their tasks and behavior well, have nothing to fear. Here is a wonderful resource on these types, which also talks about the other types – C and D.

In this context, I was just curious to understand how different new year resolutions of Type A and Type B people would be. My hypothesis is that while the broad themes may not be all that different between the two groups, the way they are expressed – in terms of goal determination and tracking, could differ significantly. The ideal way to test this is to conduct a survey of a representative sample with open ended questions and do some qualitative analysis for answers. But then, it’s a lot of work. 😛 Also, I don’t want to harass my friends and acquaintances much. 😉 So, I just did a fun and short poll on categories of new year resolutions.

I haven’t included the Type A/B test in the survey, so the responses are just self-perceptions. But here is the test, if you are interested. It gives out a score between 35 to 380, lower score representing Type B and higher Type A. So basically it’s a continuum.

One interesting observation is that Type A has “More family time” as the top choice along with Pursuing a career ambition, but Type B doesn’t. Seems like it is more challenging for Type As compared to Type Bs. It doesn’t mean that it’s not a priority for TypeBs. Challenge is different from priority. Something can be a priority, but not challenging.  For example, saving money may not be my resolution, because I don’t see it as a challenge but it still can be a higher priority than my resolutions such as picking up a new hobby.

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