Type A/B personality and self-efficacy

Ormrod (2006) defines self-efficacy as “an impression that one is capable of performing in a certain manner or attaining certain goals.” Thus, self-efficacy is a belief in oneself as capable.  Conjecture has existed about Type A/B and their self-efficacies (Watson, et. al. 2006). Type A Behavior Theory, introduced by Ray Rosenman and Meyer Friedman in 1974, is important because Type A exists in 50% of the general population, up to 75% among health related high-risk groups (Johnsen, Espnes, & Gillard, 1998).  Watson et al. also found that Type A demonstrates a high need for achievement, with aggression, hostility, lower self-esteem, depression, high social monitoring, less social desirability (likeability), less community participation, and lower academic grades or  job results than B’s over time (Watson, et al. 2006).

Type A’s work harder, but accomplish less than Type B’s, reducing self-efficacy. Watson et al. (2006) found that where Type A’s equaled B’s in number, team scores were higher than in teams containing more  A’s, who displayed higher self-interest. Type A’s worked harder than B’s, no matter the existence of external controls (deadlines). Type A’s monitored others, rushing and multitasking, while B’s considered alternatives and reached timely goals. Type A’s behaved negatively in team social scenarios that they felt wasted time, alienating others. This alienation reduced positive team outcomes, lowering self-efficacy for A’s (Watson et al., 2006). Rosenman (1990; as cited in Johnsen et al., 1998) described Type A’s as ambitious, aggressive, competitive, impatient, and hurried; as well as hostile, if their goals are thwarted. Such Type A’s alienate others. This all may indicate Type A’s’ need to control the environment to bolster their self-images. Type B’s are described generally only as lower-level A’s, but B’s increase team scores and alienate less than A’s, thus more likely to have higher self-efficacy (Watson, 2006).

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Researchers have sought to relate Type A/B to the Five-Factor Personality Model (Morrison, 1997) and found that Type A often correlates with high extraversion and neurosis, as described in a meta-analysis by Myrtek in 1995, with low agreeableness (Morrison, 1997). This demonstrates Type A’s’ need to exert control for their own interests. Rayburn ; Rayburn (1996) found that Type A’s need to prove their worth repeatedly, set higher work goals than B’s and work longer hours (Burger, 1997). Type A’s rush and do not consider alternatives, producing lesser results (Burger, 1997). Type A’s’ multitasking to out-produce others is ineffective (Karren et al., 2001). Type B’s achieve better results than A’s, suggesting higher self-efficacy among B’s (Watson, et al., 2006). Type A’s show Friedman and Rosenman’s joyless striving (as cited in Karren et al., 2001). For example, Type A students value high grades more than do Type B’s and  take more college courses to prove themselves (Burger, 1997), study longer, and work longer job hours (Mudrack, 1993), but achieve overall lower academic scores. Watson, et al. (2006) found that Type A’s scored significantly lower in total individual exam scores than Type B’s in a 4-month period [ t (1034) =-1.78, p<.05, one-tailed]. This suggests lower self-efficacy (based on achievement) among goal-directed Type A’s compared with more relaxed Type B’s. The greater tendency of Type A’s toward depression and low self-esteem suggests lower self-efficacy as well. Type B’s seem to achieve better results more often and maintain better social interactions that also increase results and, therefore, show a higher self-efficacy than do Type A personalities.


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