Photo: Rex USA.
As much as we like to play therapist to our best friends, few of us are actual, qualified psychologists. But, that doesn't stop many people from tossing around pop-psych phrases like "Type A" all willy nilly. Where does the term even come from, and what does it really mean?
The phrase first appeared in the late '50s, when cardiologist Meyer Friedman noticed a connection between heart disease and personality type. In his opinion, those patients who were more driven, impatient, and in possession of a high-stress disposition were more likely to suffer a cardiac event. Fast forward 20 years later, and Friedman's book Type A Behavior And Your Heart all but made the phrase a household phenomenon. As such, it's taken on its own connotation to mean someone who's, well, kind of a control freak (to put it nicely).
According to John Schaubroeck, professor of psychology and management at Michigan State University, Type A is really a range of behaviors and traits, as opposed to a singular label or characteristic. There's no one thing that you do that would qualify you as Type A. So, Schaubroeck has provided a whopping 16 ways to know if you fall under the A umbrella.
Type A peeps find things like waiting in lines to be the absolute worst, because they are annoyed by anything that needlessly inhibits their progress. (New Yorkers are excluded from this, as they are seemingly willing to wait in line for anything, from cronuts to the check-out queue at Whole Foods.) For Type A personalities, long lines are a waste of time — time they could spend doing something more productive. It should come as no surprise, then, that Type As also find it hard to relax.
Of course, you'd be hard pressed to find a Type A without a to-do list. It's their weapon of choice, based on a need to consistently have goals in mind, rather than a feeling that they're just floating through tasks. Such is the life of Type A. And, as you can probably guess, perfection is its bedfellow.