Are you a type A or a type B?

Do you show type A behavior? Are you competitive, impatient and ambitious, or are you relaxed, patient, and easy-going? Take a quick test to find out:

Read the statements below and circle the number that most closely represents your behavior.

(Source: Cooper’s adaptation of The Bortner Type A Scale, 1969, Cooper et al., 1988)
Casual about appointments 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
Never late

Noncompetitive 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Very competitive

Good listener 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Anticipates what others are going to say (nods, attempts to finish for them)
Never feels rushed (even under pressure) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Always rushed
Can wait patiently 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Impatient while waiting

Takes things one at a time 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Tries to do many things at once, thinks about what to do next
Slow, deliberate talker 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Emphatic in speech,
fast and forceful

Cares about satisfying self no matter what others think 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Wants good job recognized by others
Does things slowly 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Does things quickly (eating, walking)

Easy going 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Hard driving (pushes self and others)
Expresses feelings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Hides feelings

Many outside interests 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Few interests outside work/home

Not ambitious 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Ambitious

Casual 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Eager to get things done
Add up the circled numbers to figure out your total score.

Determine where your score fits on the scale below. Are you an A or B, or somewhere in between?

14 84 154
Type B Type A

Type A? Type A people are characterized by competitiveness, perfectionism and a sense of urgency. However, many studies have shown that type A behavior is more likely to lead to stress-related illness and heart disease1. If you are a strong type A, you should look at the areas where you scored the highest and think about what steps you can take to reduce the pressure on yourself.

Type B? Type B personalities tend to be relaxed and easy-going. Some people may find you too relaxed, but long-term, this slower, gentler pace of life has its benefits. Studies have found that type B’s are less likely than type A’s to develop coronary heart disease.

In the middle? Many people are type A’s in some situations and type B’s in others – think about how you behave at work and at home. You may like competition, but you don’t feel you always have to win. If there are particular areas where you scored a strong type A, you may want to take a look at these and see if you can reduce these sources of pressure.

Look at your scores in the questionnaire and see where you show the most type A tendencies. Take each of those areas in turn and challenge yourself to act in a more type B way, even if it is just for 30 minutes a day. Do not allow yourself to become stressed during these exercises!

Challenge your Type A traits

Never late? – Take an event, such as meeting friends (something that is not absolutely time critical) and force yourself to be 5 minutes late. If this really isn’t your style, at least try and be forgiving of others who are late for non-critical events.

Very competitive? – Next time you play a game, do not focus on winning. Instead, enjoy the experience of playing and let someone else enjoy winning.

Anticipate what others are going to say? – Stop interrupting people! Really listen to what others have to say without saying a word until they have finished.

Always rushed? – Slow down. Allow enough travel time, learn to say no or renegotiate time-frames.

Impatient while waiting? – Next time you go to the supermarket, choose the slowest checkout line and do not allow yourself to become stressed about waiting.

Stressed out stuck in traffic? Getting wound up by the situation will not help. If you are heading to a meeting, phone ahead and let them know you’re stuck. Most likely, it won’t be a problem, and if they need to start, ask them to conference you in while you are on the way (only try this if you have a hands-free kit). Getting frustrated will not help you move any faster.

Try to do too many things at once? – Learn to manage your time effectively. Prioritise your activities and build in relaxation time. Focus on the task in hand rather than worrying about the next task on your list.

Emphatic in speech, fast and forceful? – Breathe slowly and deeply and slow down your speech. Studies have shown that type B personalities may be better managers and communicators.

Need recognition? – Feel a sense of achievement from knowing that you have completed your tasks/ met your targets and reward yourself. Don’t rely on others for commendation.

Always at speed (eating, walking)? – Slow down. Eating fast impairs digestion: chewing is vital for stimulating gastric juices, and when you are stressed, blood is diverted from your digestive tract (further impairing digestion). Think about how fast you walk – do you really need to push past people? Slow down and use the time to take a few deep breaths and look around you.

Hard driving (pushing yourself and others)? – Set realistic targets for yourself and for others. Manage your time effectively to relieve some of the pressure of meeting the targets.

Hide your feelings? – Become more aware of your feelings, write them down, or express them to others. Suppressing emotions can be a significant cause of stress.

Few interests outside home/work? – Make time to pursue outside interests. Focusing on something new such as getting involved in a new sport or learning a language can be a great way to meet new people as well as giving you more perspective on your day to day activities.

Ambitious? – There is nothing wrong with being ambitious. However, it can be a significant source of stress if you are setting yourself unrealistic targets.

Eager to get things done? – Again, there is nothing fundamentally wrong with being eager to get things done. Try to keep your priorities in pespective though. For example, is meeting that deadline more important than spending time at home with your family?

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