Personality Factors


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  • Created by: Amy
  • Created on: 26-05-12 11:45

Type A: patients with coronary heart disease were more likely to have the characteristics: time pressured/competitive/hostile

Type B: relaxed, not competitive, not hostile

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Friedman and Rosenman (1976) were the researchers that developed the idea of the type A personality.

Who did they study?

3500 middle-aged American men

What were the findings?

8 and a half years, there had been 257 heart attacks, and 70% of these were Type As

What was the conclusion?

Type A is more likely to be stress prone and develop CVD

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  • Large sample/high external validity – natural – can be applied to real life situations
  • Culturally/gender biased so can’t be generalised
  • important variables not controlled – extraneous variables like diet/smoking effect

There are, however, a number of problems with the concept of Type A personality. 

The relationship is not reliable...

In a study with over 12000 male participants, Shekelle et al found no difference in the incidence of heart disease between type A and type B groups

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Type A behaviour is a combination of many characteristics:

  • It is now thought that as type A is a combination of characteristics – some more important than others in the link to heart disease.
  • Dembroski & Miller found that hostility is a key to linking A to CHD and hostility may be a risk factor independent of type A behaviour
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A Protective Factor in stress: Hardiness

Hardiness is a protective factor, helping to explain individual difference in the ability to resist the negative effects of stress.

According to Kobasa, hardy and non hardy individuals differ in the main ways.

Challenge: View life as a challenge, change is opportunity for personal growth and development and is not a threat

Commitment: Commited, deeply involved in whatever they do and approach life with a sense of curiosity and meaningfulness

Control: Strong sense of control, high internal locus of control (attribute to success to your own behaviour e.g. “I did that test and passed and that was me” OR “I failed because I didn’t revise.”

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Kobasa studied 800 American executives assessing stress using Holmes and Rahe’s SRRS. Approximately 500 of the participants were classified as high stress according to their SRRS scores. Of these, some had a low illness score and some had a high illness score. This suggests that something else  was modifying the effects of stress because individuals experiencing the same stress levels had different illness records.

High stress/low illness score/high hardiness

High stress/high illness score/ low hardiness


Hardiness acts as a protective factor from stress

What problem is there with the method of measuring the hardy personality?

Social desirability bias, critical of self

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