In This Article Expand or collapse the "in this article" section Type A Behavior Pattern (Coronary Prone Personality)

  • Introduction
  • General Overviews
  • TABP Links to Health and Heart Problems

Psychology Type A Behavior Pattern (Coronary Prone Personality)
Jeffrey M. Conte, Fiona Cochrum-Nguyen, Mary S. Yama
  • LAST REVIEWED: 08 May 2019
  • LAST MODIFIED: 19 March 2013
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199828340-0117


The Type A behavior pattern (TABP) emerged from observations of heart patients by two medical doctors named Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman in the 1950s. The term quickly became part of the public vernacular, and research accumulated linking Type A behavior and its subcomponents to physiological outcomes. Specifically, multiple studies have linked TABP to coronary heart disease (CHD), although this association continues to be challenged. Recently, researchers have suggested that it is more a matter of identifying the subcomponents of TABP that are related to CHD, instead of using global TABP as a risk factor. Recent research has also centered on identifying additional physiological effects of TABP and its subcomponents.

General Overviews

Friedman and Rosenman 1974 defined the Type A behavior pattern (TABP) as “a characteristic action-emotion complex that is exhibited by those individuals who are engaged in a relatively chronic struggle to obtain an unlimited number of poorly defined things from their environment in the shortest period of time and, if necessary, against the opposing effects of other things or persons in this same environment” (p. 67). People who exhibit TABP are characterized by ambitiousness, competitiveness, impatience, easily aroused hostility, and an exaggerated sense of time urgency. In contrast, individuals who lack these characteristics are identified as Type Bs. Dembroski and Costa 1987 provided an early overview of the emergence and development of TABP as a construct. Early contradictory research concerning global TABP’s link to coronary heart disease (CHD) and coronary artery disease was reviewed. Dembroski, et al. 1985 is useful in tandem with Dembroski and Costa 1987 in terms of outlining the development of research identifying hostility and anger-in as the most influential subcomponents of TABP on coronary disease. In addition, Wright 1988 examined anger as a significant predictor of CHD, while also exploring time urgency and chronic activation as important factors contributing to CHD. This article provided an early review of the possible physiological responses resulting from TABP that are responsible for cardiovascular diseases. Bettencourt, et al. 2006 provided an in-depth review of how personality traits influence patterns of aggressive behavior. This article focused more on the aggression literature and focused on understanding why and when individuals engage in aggressive behavior. The debate over whether Type A is a changeable behavior (Matthews 1982) or stable personality trait (Booth-Kewley and Friedman 1987, Haslam 2011) continues to this day. Matthews 1982 argued that Type A pattern is not a trait but a set of behaviors and that it exists on a continuum from Type A behavior to Type B behavior.

  • Bettencourt, A., A. Talley, A. Benjamin, and J. Valentine. 2006. Personality and aggressive behavior under provoking and neutral conditions: A meta-analytic review. Psychological Bulletin 132.5: 751–777.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.132.5.751

    An in-depth review of which personality traits influence patterns of aggressive behavior. Particularly useful for those focusing on aggression literature. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Booth-Kewley, S., and H. Friedman. 1987. Psychological predictors of heart disease: A quantitative review. Psychological Bulletin 101.3: 343–362.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.101.3.343

    An extensive, highly cited meta-analysis examining anger, hostility, aggression, depression, extroversion, anxiety, Type A, and the major components of Type A’s effects on CHD. Among several important findings, this study found support for the notion that TABP was a stable personality trait, and provided strong support for the relationship between Type A and CHD. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Dembroski, T., and P. Costa. 1987. Coronary prone behavior: Components of the Type A pattern and hostility. Journal of Personality 55.2: 211–235.

    DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.1987.tb00435.x

    An early overview of the emergence, development, and contradictory research surrounding the TABP as a construct. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Dembroski, T., J. MacDougall, R. Williams, T. Haney, and J. Blumenthal. 1985. Components of Type A, hostility, and anger-in: Relationship to angiographic findings. Psychosomatic Medicine 47.3: 219–233.

    A review of the research identifying hostility and anger-in as the most influential subcomponents of TABP on coronary disease.

  • Friedman, M., and R. Rosenman. 1974. Type A behavior and your heart. New York: Knopf.

    A groundbreaking and popular 1974 book introducing “Type A behavior” and linking it to physiological consequences. This spurred controversy in the field of medicine and sparked an explosion of research on this linkage. This book views Type A as a behavior that can be changed and not a stable personality trait.

  • Haslam, N. 2011. The return of the anal character. Review of General Psychology 15.4 (December): 351–360.

    DOI: 10.1037/a0025251

    A recent and interesting analysis of “the anal character” in psychoanalytic theory redefined as perfectionism and Type A personality. Provides support for Type A as a personality trait instead of a set of behaviors. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Matthews, K. A. 1982. Psychological perspectives on the Type A behavior pattern. Psychological Bulletin 91.2: 293–323.

    DOI: 10.1037/0033-2909.91.2.293

    This article reviews the psychological characteristics of TABP and underlines methodological issues in measuring Type A qualities. This article is useful as a measurement review. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

  • Wright, L. 1988. The Type A behavior pattern and coronary artery disease: Quest for the active ingredients and the elusive mechanism. American Psychologist 43.1: 2–14.

    DOI: 10.1037/0003-066X.43.1.2

    Noted that not all components of TABP were “toxic,” and that some Type A personalities were more successful at work without suffering the negative health effects. Precursor to the development of multiple scales measuring Type A subcomponents. Available online for purchase or by subscription.

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