Are You a Type B Personality?

Type B traits can have advantages and challenges

While you are probably familiar with the characteristics of the Type A personality (hard-driving, ambitious, perfectionist), you might not be as familiar with its counterpart, the Type B personality. People with a Type B personality are often described as easy-going, relaxed, and highly flexible. The type B personality is basically the opposite of the type A. Where type A’s are meticulous; type B’s tend to take a much more casual and carefree approach.

Type A vs. Type B

There are many different theories of personality. Some of the most popular ones attempt to categorize personalities into a number of broad types based upon shared characteristics. The Big 5 theory and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator are two well-known examples.

The Type A and Type B types were first introduced during the 1950s by cardiologists Rosenman and Friedman who were interested in how an individual’s personality might serve as a predictor for heart disease later on in life. As researchers continued to explore this link, they noted that certain clusters of personality traits seemed to have a link to specific physical illnesses.

People with type A personality traits such as aggression and competitiveness were found to have a greater risk of developing high blood pressure, heart disease, and related heart complications. People with Type B personalities, on the other hand, had a lower incidence of heart problems. Rosenman and Friedman concluded that type A traits could play a role in the development of heart problems.

What Does Type B Personality Mean?

So what exactly distinguished this type of personality? The type B personality lacks the behaviors typically seen in the A type. It is important to remember that the two types act as a continuum, with people usually leaning either more toward one type over the other. The type B personality is characterized by a set of traits that include:

  • Flexibility
  • Low stress levels
  • Relaxed attitude
  • Adaptability to change
  • Even-tempered
  • Laid-back
  • Tendency to procrastinate
  • Patience
  • Creativity

It is important to remember that everyone tends to experience the above traits to some degree from time to time. People with the type B personality, however, exhibit these traits more often than not.

You should also know that identifying your personality type is not an attempt at a mental health diagnosis. However, some patterns of traits and behaviors have been linked to physical health.

Knowing your type can help you better understand your tendencies, including your potential strengths and weaknesses.

How to Know If You’re a Type B Personality

The type B personality is often assessed by looking at the exclusion of type A traits. People who are low in characteristics and behaviors that are typical of the type A personality are often then considered a type B.

One of the most widely used measures of type A behavior is the Jenkins Activity Survey (JAS). The assessment requires an interviewer to assess the test respondent's verbal, nonverbal, and emotional responses. Questions on the assessment focus on three main areas in which the divide between type A and type B behaviors can be clearly observed: Job involvement, competitiveness, and impatience. Type B's tend to score lower on all three of these areas than do A types.

Question to Consider

If you are wondering if you might have a type B personality, it can be helpful to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you find joy in the journey and enjoy taking the time to complete a task?
  • Do you tend to be a pretty easy-going person?
  • When playing games, are you focused on just having fun?
  • Do you often wait until the last minute to do things?
  • When eating a meal, do you eat slowly and savor every bite?
  • Do you usually tackle tasks one at a time?
  • Are you able to relax when you are away from work?
  • Are you good at maintaining low stress levels?
  • Do you focus more on enjoying an activity or on finishing the task?

Health

So what sort of health challenges might you need to consider if you have more of a type B personality? One advantage of the this type of personality is that people with this cluster of traits tend to have a lower risk of developing heart disease and high blood pressure. They may also have better immunity because of their lower stress levels and better stress management stills. This does not mean, however, that the type B personality is free from challenges.

While people with the type B personality are less prone to coronary heart disease, this does not necessarily mean that having this cluster of personality traits confers an automatic protective effect.

One issue that people with the type B personality may face is a tendency to take an overly relaxed attitude toward their health. Because they can often be so laid back, they might not be as diligent about maintaining healthy behaviors or staying on top of regular health checkups.

Some have suggested that since type A behaviors are more connected to heart problems, there might be some benefit to helping people adopt more of a type B approach. However, as some researchers point out, doing so could also lead to negative outcomes. If an ambitious, driven, workaholic stopped displaying those stereotypical type A behaviors, it could lead to reduced productivity, decreased job function, and even loss of income. These effects could then negatively impact health by increasing stress levels.

Relationships

Individuals with type B personalities tend to be warm, supportive, and patient in their relationships with others. They are excellent listeners and are usually very good at getting along with others. Type Bs don’t allow minor problems to get to them, and they are good at keeping a level head even during the most trying of times.

This tendency to be content can be both a blessing and a curse for the type B personality. Because you are so adaptable and easy-going, you might sometimes accept unfair treatment or situations. Rather than speak up when someone treats you unfairly, you might be inclined to just let it go without causing a stir.

As a type B, it is important to learn to stand up for yourself in situations where other people try to take advantage of your accommodating nature.

School and Career

Having a type B personality can have benefits at school and in the workplace, but it can also present challenges.

Some advantages include:

  • Academic achievement: Because type As tend to be so goal-driven and achievement-focused, you might suspect that they would be more likely to pursue challenging degrees in medicine or law. One study found that in a sampling of 500 medical students, only around 10 percent of the participants had a type A personality while the majority (almost 90 percent) had a type B. Such results suggest that while type Bs have a more relaxed personality, it does not have a negative impact on their academic potential or achievements.
  • Stress management skills: One major advantage of this personality type is the ability to cope well with stress and pressure. Even when faced with a great deal of stress, type Bs are usually able to maintain a level-headed, optimistic outlook. This can be beneficial in school and later on as people with this personality type enter the workforce.
  • Flexibility: Type Bs also excel at adapting to change. Where individuals with type A personalities tend to be more rigid, type Bs are flexible and capable of dealing with changing or ambiguous situations.

    Some of the challenges that a type B might encounter in this area include:

    • Perceptions: Because people with this personality type are more laid-back, they can sometimes be perceived as lazy or indifferent. This can make it difficult for some with this personality type to make a good impression while still maintaining their easy-going image. Type Bs may need to make an extra effort to project an image of hard-working professionalism in the workplace.
    • Procrastination: The tendency to procrastinate is one challenge that type B students may need to overcome. Establishing a good study and homework schedule that ensures steady progress toward a goal can be a helpful approach. School and work can impose deadlines, so finding a way to manage your time and get things done when they need to be done can ensure academic and professional success.

    Living With a Type B Personality

    Not all type Bs are the same, but there are a few things you can do to help manage aspects of your personality that are characteristic of this type.

    Use Your Time Well

    Taking a relaxed attitude toward life can be useful for managing stress most of the time, except when you start letting things go to the point where you feel like you’re always scrambling to catch up. Establishing a more structured schedule can help you stay on task and get things done, allowing you to enjoy the process without the last-minute race to meet deadlines.

    Don’t Put Things Off

    Because people with this personality type tend to be very relaxed, they are known to procrastinate until the last minute. This can lead to missed deadlines or a last minute rush to get projects completed on time. Avoiding this tendency can help you stay on track and avoid missing important deadlines.

    Let Others See Your Strengths

    One problem that type Bs often encounter is that others sometimes see them as lazy or inefficient when they are really just working quietly and steadily toward a goal. To make sure that your boss and co-workers see your hard work for what it is, you might need to make an effort to meet type As somewhere in the middle. It might feel like micromanaging, but giving regular updates on your progress will show that you are meeting deadlines on time.

    Set Goals

    Type Bs tend to be broad-minded—they don’t like to set strict schedules or even create limited goals. They are more content to kick back and see where the journey takes them. This can limit their success at times, however, so it can be helpful to create more specific goals. Such goals might be more general and long-term than what a type A would set out to achieve, but they can give your type B personality something to work towards.

    Tips for Interacting With a Type B Personality

    Even if you are not a type B personality, the chances are good that you know quite a few people with that sort of personality. If you are more of a type A, you might occasionally find the type B approach to life a bit frustrating. This can be particularly true for type A managers working with type B employees.

    Your approach to work is probably quite a bit different—more rigid and focused—while your type B employees have a more laid-back, seemingly messier style of getting things done. This sometimes leads to type Bs being mislabeled as lazy when the truth is that they usually just don’t get the recognition that they deserve for the work they do.

    Here are some things you should remember when you are interacting with a type B personality:

    • They have a plan, but it’s probably in their heads. Type As like to make detailed plans and to-do lists, but type Bs are more likely to have mental notes of what they need to get done. Just because they don’t have it written down, however, doesn’t mean that they aren’t on track.
    • They work well in groups. Type Bs often do well in group brainstorming sessions where they can share ideas off the top of their heads. People with this personality type are happy to share success with others. The process tends to matter just as much as the outcome, so they usually enjoy being creative and exploring their options. Collaboration offers a way to be innovative and work with other like-minded individuals.
    • They don’t like to be rushed. Type Bs are not focused on making sure that every single moment is accounted for and that maximum efficiency is ensured. They need time and space to work on projects at their own pace.

    A Word From Verywell

    It is important to remember that the Type A/B approach is just one way of thinking about personality. This approach also tends to be a fairly broad and imprecise way of classifying personality types. Other theories of personality typically break down personality further into a number of broad dimensions that include such traits and conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness.

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