Personality Factors in Stress- AS Psychology AQA A.

Type A 

Type B

Hardy Personality

  • Created by: Michaela
  • Created on: 20-02-13 16:25

Type A behaviour + research

TYPE A BEHAVIOUR: Respond to stress with impatience + time urgency, hostile + aggressiveness and competitive + achievement striving. Characteristics= lead to raised blood pressure and raised levels of stress hormones- linked to ill health (CHD)

TYPE B BEHAVIOUR: Lacking Type A behaviour- easy-going, patient, relaxed. Decreases individuals risk of stress-related illness

  • Friedman and Rosenman: Apprx. 3000 men aged 39-59 in California
  • Examined for signs of CHD (to exclude those who were found to be ill) & personality assessed by interview
  • In the interview: questions about how they respond to everyday pressures. E.g. hot they would cope standing in a long queue
  • Interview in a provocative manner to trigger Type A behaviour. E.g. interviewer would speak slowly so a Type A would want to interrupt
  • Found: after 8 and a half years later twice as many Type A's died of heart attacks (12%) compared to 6% of Type B's
  • Type A= higher bp + cholesterol
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Evaluation- Research support for the Type A + CHD


  • Ragland and Brand: follow-up of Friedman & Rosenman study in 1982-3, 22 years after
  • Found: 214 (apprx. 15%) of the men had died of CHD
  • The study confirmed the importance of the CHD risk factors (age, smoking + high bp)
  • But.. found little evidence between Type A and mortality- challenges earlier conclusion that Type A behaviou was a significant risk factor for CHD mortality
  • Myrtek: meta-analysis of 35 studies
  • Found: associayion between CHD and hostility in Type A personality
  • Apart from this, no other association between Type A behaviour and CHD.

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Hardy personality


  • Kobasa and Maddi: suggested that some may have a 'hardy' personality than others
  • Hardy personality: characteristics that have a defence against negative effects of stress
  • CONTROL- control of their lives, rather than being controlled by external factors 
  • COMMITMENT- involved with the world around them & strong sense of purpose
  • CHALLENGE- see life challenges as problems to be overcome than threats. Enjoy change as an opportunity for development
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Research on the hardy personality


  • Kobasa: 800 US business exec., assessing stress using SRRS. 
  • Apprx. 150 of the participants had high stress according to the SRRS scores. Some had low illness scores, some had high scores.
  • Suggests something else was changing the effects of stress as people had same stress levels but diff. illness records ---> hardy personality encourges resilience. High-stress/high-illness group --> low on variables. High-stress/low-illness --> high on variables 
  • Maddi et al.: Employees at a US company that was decreasing in size
  • Two-thirds of workers suffered stress-related health problems over this time, but remaining third thrived
  • "Thriving" group showed more hardiness 
  • Lifton et el.: Measured hardiness in students at 5 US uni's to see if hardiness & completing a degree were related
  • Found: students with low hardiness --> disproportionately represented among drop-outs, and the students with high score --> more likely to complete degree 
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Evaluation of hardy personality


  • More simply just negative affectivity - NA (Watson and Clark)
  • High-NA people are more likely to report distress + dissatisfaction, dwell on thier failures and focus on negative aspects of themselves and their world
  • NA + hardiness correlate- 'hardy' people are those who have low-NA


  • Most of the research supporting a link between health + hardiness relies on self-report questionnaires
  • Recent development of Personal Views Survey to tackle this --> addresses criticisms of the original measure, i.e. long, awkward working and negatively worded items. 
  • However, not all problems have been resolved. Some studies have low internal reliability for the challenge component of hardiness
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