Personality Factors and Stress

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Personality Factors and Stress:
Type A personality: Describes a person who is involved in an incessant struggle to achieve more and
more in less time. Friedman and Rosenman (1959) believed Type A individual possesse three major
Competiveness and achievement striving
Impatience and time urgency
Hostility and agessiveness
These characteristics would, lead to raised blood pressure and raised levels of stress hormones ­
linked to ill health particularly the development of coronary heart disease.
In contrast Type B was proposed as a personality relatively lacking these characteristic, being
patient, relaxed and easy going, less vulnerable to stress-related illness.
Research on the Type A personality: Friedman and Rosenman set up Western Collaborative Group
Study (1960) Approximately 3000 men aged 39-59, living in California were examined for signs of
CHD. Personalities were assessed using a structured interview.
Interview was conducted in a provocative manner to elict Type A behaviour.
Findings were alarming, after 8 ½ years, twice as many Type A participants had died of
Cardiovascular problems.
Over 12% of Type A personality participants had experience a heart attack compared to 6%
of Type Bs.
Type As also had higher blood pressure and higher cholesterol. They were also more likely to
smoke and have family history of CHD.
Ragland and Brand (1988) carried out follow-up study of the Western Collaborative Group
participants in 1982-1983, 22 years after the start of the study.
They found that 214 of men had died of CHD. Confirmed the importance of CHD risk factors,
but found little evidence of a relationship between Type A behaviours and mortality
Challenging the earlier conclusion that Type A personality was significant risk factor for CHD
Myrtek (2001) carried out a meta-analysis of 35 studies on this topic, and found an
association between CHD and component of Type A personality ­ hostility.
No evidence of an association between Type A personality and CHD.
The Hardy Personality:

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Kobasa and Maddi (1977) suggested that some people are more psychologically `hardy' than others.
The hardy personality includes a range of characteristics which, if present provide defences against
the negative effects of stress.
Control: Hardy people see themselves as being in control of their lives, rather than being
controlled by external factors
Commitment: Involved with world around them, have strong sense of purpose
Challenge: See life challenges as problems to overcome rather than as threats or stressors.…read more


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