Odds are you’ve heard someone mention they’re a Type A personality before. Maybe you’ve even labeled yourself as Type A without understanding its whole meaning. The Type A and Type B personality theory is nothing new. The theory, first developed by cardiologists Meyer Friedman and Ray H. Rosenman, has been around since the 1970s. These doctors based the Type A and B Personality Theory upon the idea that people can be categorized into two groups based on their behavioral responses to stress. The theory also includes two other Types, which are less publicized, Type C and D.  

While you might expect Type A to include a breakdown of specific personality traits like the 16-type system or the Enneagram, it’s more about how you react to the world around you. 

So, what is a Type A personality? It’s easiest to break down the type known as “the ideal worker” by looking at these seven signs that you may be one.  

1. You like to take on challenging deadlines

While Type B personalities don’t enjoy taking on complex challenges unless it’s necessary to do so, if you’re a Type A personality, you’ll seek out challenges in your everyday routine. Your predisposition toward challenging yourself to the limit makes it easy for you to say yes to stressful, close-cut deadlines. Other types may say no to these rushed deadlines where possible, but Type A likes the adrenaline—even if they won’t admit it.

What Type A most enjoys is being able to say they succeeded, even under intense pressure,  and their go-getter nature makes it appear effortless (until they lose their temper).

And the challenging deadlines aren’t limited to work scenarios for Type As. The “deadlines” may be the need to be in a specific place, at a specific time, like when scheduling overlapping parties, social events, or hobby-based pursuits.

2. You’re a perfectionist overachiever 

Type A personalities don’t know how to switch off their ambition. They’re so laser-focused on achievements, they never really relax. If you’re an overachiever in almost everything you do, you’re probably a Type A.

Type As are the high performers at work who put in long hours to get in good with the boss and strive to go above and beyond. They put a great emphasis on being “perfect,” and anything less leaves them reeling for days in disappointment with themselves. You might recognize you’re an overachiever if you considered a “B” (a grade other, less perfectionistic types still hail as a high mark) a failing grade in school. 

Other examples of typical Type As? If you spend hours reflecting on what you did wrong instead of what you did right, or if you pack out your schedule for work, school, and beyond to make yourself the “best” you can be. 

Despite your raw talent for perfecting every detail, it’s important to remember to slow down and enjoy life once in a while because you can’t always be “go, go, go.”

3. You hate wasted time 

No one likes to have their time wasted, but Type As loathe sitting back and watching valuable time slip through their fingers. A portrait of Type A’s frustration could go like this: imagine a simple phone call gone wrong. 

You’re sitting on hold trying to resolve an important issue. Maybe you need to pay a bill, resolve an error on an account, or get through to customer service for some other problem. 

Whatever the case, after 15 minutes have passed, you begin to get antsy. When it’s been over 40 minutes for a problem that should take 10 to resolve, you’ll start to feel ill-used. You’ve discussed the issue, and this person should know how to fix it, so what is taking so long? A Type B would shrug their shoulders and say, “It is what it is,” but not so for the Type A. They may experience anger, take the wait as a personal affront, and have to try hard not to lose their temper. Spoiler alert: the Type A will probably not stay calm if no resolution is reached in the next 10 minutes.

When better managed, there’s a pro-tip for Type As to avoid losing their temper. To keep your cool, remember to multitask when you’re experiencing a long wait for something. Before you even dial the number, place your planner in front of you or grab a book because you might be on the phone longer than anticipated. If you mindfully multitask, you’ll feel more relaxed and less like someone has wasted your time since you’ve taken control of the situation. 

4. You get stressed out easier than others

As sure as the Type A Personality strives for perfection at work, this hard-working type will also burn out quicker than other types as they push themselves to their limits. Type As are always under a lot of pressure because of the tremendously high standards they place on themselves. Type As will tire themselves out until they achieve their goals, even when it means sacrificing their physical and mental health. While Type Bs, Cs, and Ds might think twice about packing their week with a near-unmanageable schedule, Type As will do so to get ahead.

Because they work so hard, the Type A lifestyle is imbalanced, and they don’t get much personal time to unwind. This imbalance leads to Type As burning out at a quicker pace, which of course, leads to even more stress and disappointment with themselves. 

If Type A is in a downward spiral of stress affecting their health, it’s essential to set aside time to reevaluate and create pathways for relieving stress by scheduling out more free time.

5. You tend to be a dominant person

There’s nothing wrong with possessing dominant characteristics. However, when you’re a confident, dominant person, it means you’re going to clash with other dominant people in the struggle for control. 

If you’re a Type A, you’re dominant in at least one or two areas of your life. Maybe you’re the most take-charge person in your family, who makes plans and convinces others you’re right. At work, perhaps you lead the team or find yourself butting heads with a few other dominant personalities who want the same promotion you do.  

The key factor for Type A personalities is they have an innate need to feel they’re the dominant party. Though they may be well-meaning at times, some Type As aren’t afraid to step on toes to get where they want to be. Sometimes this means they overlook others’ feelings, wishes, or needs in favor of their goals.

6. You can be a little hostile or aggressive

Type As aren’t mean or unfeeling, but they often possess an aggressive edge because of their high standards (which they also hold other people to in some scenarios) and their sense of urgency. Aggressiveness is their means for getting ahead and getting what they want, and although it’s a positive sometimes, it can also be a negative when it affects other people. 

For example, Type As aggressiveness will show when they’re impatient, feel someone is wasting their time, or when small things upset their day. It may surface as rude comments,  visible anger, or a short-tempered nature that can be off-putting to others. 

So, while aggressive behavior can help Type A reach their career goals, they may benefit from practicing stress-relieving behaviors to avoid taking out anger on others around them.

7. You’re very organized

Organization is key when you’re a Type A. Type As like to get things done and move on to their other tasks, so from a young age, they learn to stay organized in school, which is a trait that travels with them as they enter the workforce. 

One reason Type As are naturals at organizing is their perfectionistic nature. Why would they want their desk to be cluttered when it can look clean enough to eat your lunch off of? Another factor is their prized currency: time. But the driving force behind Type As organized processes is their desire to “be the best.” 

What is the takeaway?

Hopefully, you’ll never have to ask “What is a Type A Personality?” again! Because in a nutshell, having a Type A Personality means you’re a strong individual with a very work-minded grasp on life, and you work hard to be the best at what you do. Overall, Type As handle a large amount of stress well and do so with flying colors, but it can also take its toll on their mental and physical health. However, if you think you’re a Type A, it’s crucial to take a moment for yourself to relax, unwind, and breathe. Remember to take a siesta once and a while, and don’t beat yourself up when you don’t achieve your laundry list of Mount-Everest-sized goals.

Cianna Garrison
Cianna Garrison holds a B.A. in English from Arizona State University and works as a freelance writer. She fell in love with psychology and personality type theory back in 2011. Since then, she has enjoyed continually learning about the 16 personality types. As an INFJ, she lives for the creative arts, and even when she isn’t working, she’s probably still writing.