For decades, we have heard of the personality types A and B. You may have described someone as a “Type A” personality – an ambitious, competitive, and impatient person striving for success. Perhaps you would describe yourself as such.
But new research suggests the categorization of Type A and Type B personalities might be misleading.
Researchers from the University of Toronto in Scarborough, Canada, say the term is unhelpful and flawed, according to a BBC.com story. The way it’s usually applied is based on an outdated way of thinking about personality. Be careful about labeling yourself as Type A at your next job interview.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Type A personalities are characterized by ambition, impatience, and competitiveness, and thought to be prone to stress and heart disease. (Type B, on the other hand, is defined as being relaxed, patient and having behavior that could decrease a risk of heart disease.)
This Type A or B model of behavior is considered by many professionals and academics as outdated.
Sandra Matz is an assistant professor at Columbia Business School who’s researched psychometrics and ways to measure personality or cognitive ability.
We need ways to describe someone’s personality that aren’t just an unlimited number of adjectives, she says. And when you start assigning resume-ready descriptors to a certain type – like Type A’s “ambitious”, “organized” or “workaholic” – it’s easy to start to see the pitfalls of such a rigid system.
What’s a better way? Many experts point to the “Big Five” test. Instead of forcing someone into a type, it places you somewhere along the spectrum of five sliding scales.
So the next time someone says they’re Type A and boasts about how it has helped them achieve success, take it with a grain of salt. The real future of personality in the workplace will be less ironclad, with fewer either/or binaries of Type A or B. Instead, it’ll be about matching the right personality with the right environment.