Understanding Personality: A, B, C, and D Types

By Elif Çalışkan

Several years ago some medical practitioners had a hard time predicting which types of people would experience cardiovascular disease. In fact, they knew that high blood pressure, overweight, and inactivity would increase cardiovascular risks. However, even the combination of these factors was not enough for them to make an accurate prediction. So, they had to do pretty deep researches. Then, they’ve found a relationship between chronic medical morbidity and personality characteristics (Burger, 2006).


Personality type theories are popular with researchers, managers, and management consultants when it is necessary to categorize employees and make a decision on the basis of personal characteristics (Sutton et al., 2013) because sometimes one type of personality more tends to find psychological resources to deal with stressful events while another type is more vulnerable and have a low health-related quality of life (Ross, 1995).

The concept of stress has many different meanings in the literature of psychology due to the various stress sources and effects on humans. Thus, it is defined as an external situation (or stimulus), a response, or appraisal of a context. Personality researchers point to constant and enduring dispositions to explain why some individuals are more vulnerable to stressful situations than others. Researchers have also put forward the hypothesis that one of the important factors in chronic medical morbidity is the personality of the patient (Raza, 2007; Ray & Bozek, 1980; Eysenck, 1994). In this article, we will explain A, B, C, and D types of personalities and their vulnerabilities.

Type A Personality

The behavior pattern shows some characteristics such as competitive achievement, ambitiousness, a strong sense of time urgency, impatience, hostility, aggressiveness. They also race against time so they believe that time should not be wasted. They dedicate themselves to their works rather than close relationships. (Yazici & Altun, 2013). However, they are more likely to satisfy if there is a challenging goal to win. Research conducted in 12 large companies revealed that most of the managers are defined as type A. They have higher salaries than Type B managers. So, Type A personality is an indicator of how fast it will rise in its field (Burger, 2006). They try to achieve more and more in less and less time. On the other hand, they are more associated with coronary heart diseases (CHD) such as high cholesterolhigh blood pressure (hypertension)diabetes, and stress (Ray & Bozek, 1980).

Type B Personality

The behavior pattern shows some characteristics such as being easygoing, lazy, persuasive, and those types of people have a stronger relationship with other people. Similarly, they are more likely to be relaxed and forgiving in a conflict context. When they experience stress they don’t cope with it alone. They tend to get support from their close friends (Raza, 2007). So, they are less likely to suffer from coronary heart disease (CHD) because they don’t force themselves. On the other hand, these types of people are more prone to procrastination. Although these people do not have very giant goals, they are more comfortable in stressful situations (Burger, 2006). For example, despite a person doesn’t know much about the role of the position, if she behaves cool and confident in the job interview, she tends to take the job compared to the knowledgeable but anxious person.

Type C Personality

The behavior pattern is similar to Type A, but there is a key difference in being perfectionism than Type A. Type C behavior pattern shows some characteristics such as to be detailed, analytical, calm, dependable, complying to tules, mostly focusing on pleasing other people, and incapable of expressing their own feelings. For example, the person who would like to think to please other people, may ignore his/her actual feelings and become passive. In addition, Temoshok’s study has found that Type C personality could be a risk factor for individuals to develop cancer more easily and quickly than other people. So, the relation between Type C personality and cancer development shows the effect of Type C personality behaviors on the immune system (Bozo et al., 2014).

Type D Personality

Type D personality also called the distressed personality. It includes two basic traits: negative affectivity (NA) and social inhibition (SI) (Pedersen et al., 2004). Firstly, Negative affectivity (NA) is the tendency to experience negative emotions across time and situations, which is related to neuroticism concept (anxious, insecure, depressed, self-pity, and emotional versus calm, self-confident, cool, and self-satisfied). While Social Inhibition (SI) is an expression of emotions and behaviors in social interactions, which is related to the introversion (reserved, shy, and quiet) concept (Nyklíček et al., 2013). On the other hand, Type D Personality is associated with impaired health conditions such as coronary heart diseases (CHD), increased depressive symptoms, increased risk of morbidity, mortality, and impaired quality of life (Schiffer et al., 2005).


In conclusion, specific personalities have higher self-motivation, ambition, planning capabilities, industriousness, self-control (e.g. Type A). Also, if we understand their personality, we are able to see how we satisfy them in the workplace. For example, Type A can be satisfied if there is a challenge and achievement to win, while Type B can be satisfied to have close relationships and a workplace environment in which he/she may be relaxed.

On the other hand, personality factors have significant interactions with stress and coping mechanisms so they play a powerful role in longevity. Also, specific personality traits play a role in predisposing specific people (e.g. coronary heart disease- Type A; cancer-prone – Type C). Furthermore, Temoshok’s study has shown typical cancer patients’ characteristics: Firstly, losing a crucial relationship. Secondly, having an inability to express hostility on one’s own behalf. Thirdly, feeling of despair. Fourthly, bottling-up of emotion (Eysenck, 1994). Despite accomplishing alone is an important value; strong, meaningful relationships have also a crucial role in individuals’ lives, and if the relationship lost, the person can encounter intense despair, psychological, and chronic medical morbidity. To sum up, understanding personality may help not just to predict people’s behaviors; also predict people’s health-related quality of life as well as job satisfaction (Eysenck, 1994; Burger, 2006).


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Eysenck, H. J. (1994). Cancer, personality and stress: Prediction and prevention. Advances in behaviour research and therapy16(3), 167-215.

Nyklíček, I., van Beugen, S., & Denollet, J. (2013). Effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction on distressed (Type D) personality traits: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Behavioral Medicine36(4), 361-370.

Pedersen, S. S., van Domburg, R. T., Theuns, D. A., Jordaens, L., & Erdman, R. A. (2004). Type D personality is associated with increased anxiety and depressive symptoms in patients with an implantable cardioverter defibrillator and their partners. Psychosomatic medicine66(5), 714-719.

Ray, J. J., & Bozek, R. (1980). Dissecting the A‐B personality type. British Journal of Medical Psychology53(2), 181-186.

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Ross, G. F. (1995). Work stress and personality measures among hospitality industry employees. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management.

Schiffer, A. A., Pedersen, S. S., Widdershoven, J. W., Hendriks, E. H., Winter, J. B., & Denollet, J. (2005). The distressed (type D) personality is independently associated with impaired health status and increased depressive symptoms in chronic heart failure. European journal of cardiovascular prevention & rehabilitation12(4), 341-346.

Sutton, A., Allinson, C., & Williams, H. (2013). Personality type and work-related outcomes: An exploratory application of the Enneagram model. European Management Journal31(3), 234-249.

Yazici, H., & Altun, F. (2013). Type-A Behavior, Gender, and Job Satisfaction: A Research on Instructors. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice13(3), 1455-1459.

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