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Personality factors and stress
Background info and key terms
Personality is a set of characteristics, attitudes, behaviour and general
temperament that distinguishes them from others.
TYPE A BEHAVIOUR
Type A individuals posses three major characteristics:
1) Competitiveness and achievement striking
2) Impatient and time urgency
3) Hostility and aggressiveness
These characteristics raise blood pressure and raised levels of stress hormones,
they are linked to illness especially CHD.
Type B personalities lack these characteristics. They are:
Easy going, patient, relaxed.
These characteristics actually decrease an individual's risk of stress related illness.
Research on type A behaviour
Friedman and Rosenman wanted to test the hypothesis of CHD linking to Type A
behaviour. They did a study on 3000 men aged 3959 who were examined for CHD
(excluding individual who are already ill), their personalities were tested by interview.
Interview aimed to elicit Type A personalities by asking them provocative questions
e.g, how they would cope in stressful situations.
Finding: These are the findings after 8 and a half years.
Type A Type B
Heart attacks 12.8% 6.0%
Recurring heart attacks 2.6% 0.8%
Fatal heart attacks 2.7% 1.1%
Types A's had higher blood pressures, higher cholesterol and were more likely to
Supporting research Ragland and Brand carried a follow up study of the
participants, 22 years after the study. They found that 214 of the men had
died of CHD. This confirmed the importance of CHD risk factors eg smoking,
age, high blood pressure. However, they found little evidence for Type A
behaviours and mortality.
Myrtek carried out a meta analysis of 35 studies and found an association
between CHD and hostility (a component of type A personality.)
THE HARDY PERSONALITY
Some type A individuals appear to be resistant to heart disease.
Kobaska and Maddi suggested some people are hardier than others. They provide
defences against the negative effects of stress.
Control they are in control of their lives.
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Commitment involved with the world around them, have a strong sense of
Challenge see challenges as problems to be overcome rather than threats.
Research on the hardy personality
Kobasa studied 800 businessmen. 150 of them were classified as high stress. Of
them some had low illness scores and some had high illness scores. Kobasa
proposed that the hardy personality encourages resilience. The individuals with low
illness scores had hardy personality characteristics whereas high illness scorers
Lifton et al measured hardiness of university students.…read more