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
characteristics:
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.
Evaluation:
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
mortality.
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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