Pattern A Behavior and Uncontrollable Stress
Several years ago, I began a series of experiments to determine whether individuals classified as Pattern A do, indeed, exhibit excessive achievement striving, time-urgency, and hostility. The results of this research provided systematic documentation for the three components of the behavior pattern.1,2 Moreover, a subtle consistency was revealed in the array of empirical facts. In contrast to Type B’s, Type A’s worked hard to succeed, suppressed subjective states (e.g., fatigue) that might interfere with task performance, exhibited rapid pacing of their activities, and expressed hostility after being harassed in their efforts at task completion—all, I would submit, in the interests of asserting control over environmental demands and requirements. I would also suggest that these demands must be at least minimally stressful, for the possibility of failure and loss of esteem was inherent in most of the experimental situations used in my research. Since there were few differences between A’s and B’s in how they perceived the experiments, the coronary-prone behavior pattern might be described as a characteristic style of responding to environmental stressors that threaten the individual’s sense of control. Type A’s are engaged in a struggle for control, whereas Type B’s are free of such concerns, and hence, relatively free of characteristic Pattern A traits.
KeywordsBehavior Pattern Stressful Life Event Active Coping Coronary Patient Characteristic Style
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