Outline and evaluate personality as a source of stress

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Outline and evaluate research into the role played by personality as a source of stress. 

Friedman and Rosenman (1974) identified two types of personality that relate to individual responses to stress – type A and type B. Type A personalities are said to be impatient, competitive, ambitious, aggressive, find it hard to relax and have a ‘chronic sense of time urgency’. In contrast, type B personalities are the opposite, being less driven, more easy-going, patient and able to relax. As doctors, Friedman and Rosenman noticed that people with Type A personalities were more prone to heart attacks and coronary heart disease. In order to test this hypothesis scientifically they conducted a longitudinal research project called the Western Collaborative study. They examined 3500 healthy middle-aged men from California. Over a period of 8 1/2  years they assessed the lifestyle and health of these participants using structured interviews and medical examinations. By the end of the study 70% of the men who had developed coronary heart disease (CHD) were type A personalities – twice the number of those with type B personality.

Friedman and Rosenman concluded that type A behaviour significantly increased the risk of coronary heat disease.

One advantage of the Western Collaborative Study lies in it being longitudinal. It tracked men


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