Thursday, July 9, 2009


Are you a Type A personality? If you are, it's bad news: Doctors say it's one of the risk factors for ischemic heart disease, and, according to this online test, it means you have "a high price to pay" for your ambitions and achievements: You "experience a constant sense of opposition, wariness, and apprehension" and your "bursts of hostility and impatience result in guilt, remorse and anxiety." In a nutshell, you are basically a nervous wreck. Oh, and a second-hander, too, with your "persistent desire for external recognition."

Now, if you aren't Type A, you must be Type B. And if that's what you are, it's bad news! At least according to the same online test, which seems to suggest that the reason Type B personalities don't pay a high price for their ambitions and achievements is because they don't have any. Here are some of the answers that would make you a Type B:
  • "I frankly don't care whether I do or do not make it into the top 10%."
  • "I get no particular pleasure out of acquiring things."
  • "It doesn't matter whether my family is financially secure. The important thing is to be together."
  • "It doesn't bother me if I cannot finish what I planned for the day."
  • "I often choose to spend time with my friends or family, even though I have something important to do."

In a nutshell, Type B means you're a lazy bum. Oh, and a second-hander, too!

Here are my test results:

I scored 50% because I chose the "Type B" answer for the questions that asked about being a nervous wreck and the "Type A" answer for the questions that asked about being a lazy bum. I was told that "in this case, the middle ground is good" and I was commended for having "a very healthy attitude towards life"--but despite all that praise heaped on me, the whole thing left me feeling insulted. After all, if I had given the exact opposite answer to each question, I would have gotten the exact same score! I bet if the authors heard my reaction (consisting mainly of instructions on where to shove their personality test), they would recoil in horror and promptly reclassify me as a terminal case of Type A!

It didn't take me long to recognize this as an insidious package deal meant to discourage people from pursuing their values--but what will it do to the many innocent, unsuspecting people taking the test who haven't been taught to watch out for the false dichotomies and other tricks used by people posing as "experts" to further their anti-man agenda?

A much more rational take on the subject is offered by Dr. Harry Mills:

The specific aspects of a Type A individual that continue to be related to heart disease are explosive reactions, competitiveness, impatience, irritability and hostility. Lumped together these traits equal anger.

[...] Type As seek excellence to prove their worth. Type B people, on the other hand, can also achieve personal success but do so because the process is enjoyable to them. Type Bs feel secure inside and do not need hostility or competition to succeed.

although it still suffers from a conflation of hostility (see Figure 1 below) and competitiveness (see Figure 2).

Figure 1. Hostile people
Figure 2. Competitive people

1 comment:

  1. Roland,

    Thanks for your guest post! I had to do the test by I am "stressed out" now! ;) I got 38.

    "What does your score mean?

    You seem to be in the middle between the Type A and Type B personality. In this case, the middle ground is good. Your attitude to life is more of the "smell the roses" kind and you know how and when to relax. Nonetheless, you realize that picking up a challenge and competing a little bit for your place in the sun can add some spice to your life. The equilibrium is important, so don't let your hostile, aggressive, and competitive alter ego take over too often. Generally, you are easy to be around, and people tend to feel relaxed and comfortable in your presence. Yours is a very healthy attitude towards life."

    More to read:

    Type A and Type B personality theory. Wikipedia.

    Type A Personality Traits: Characteristics and Effects of a Type A Personality.