How Are "Type B" Personalities Different From "Type A"?

by Team Scary Mommy
Originally Published: 
type b personality, Woman with her feet up on a balcony
Artem Beliaikin/Pexels

When referring to a person’s personality or temperament, it’s common to hear things like, “oh, she’s such a type A.” Referring to someone as being a “type A” has become shorthand for a person who can have tendencies to be controlling, aggressive, and incredibly driven or hard-working. Although this term can also be used negatively, especially if referring to a woman. But what about people with type B personalities? In order for there to be a type A personality, there has to be a type B for the sake of comparison, at least, but is it simply the opposite of a type A person?

Do type B people really put the B in laid back? Or is there more to type B personalities than most people realize? It’s important to remember that each personality type is not a good or bad kind of character. Although a type B person is different than someone who is type A, this doesn’t mean that one is more capable than the other. Here’s what you need to know about the definition of a type B personality, and some of the most common traits.

Want to dive deeper into type B personality? Check out our sitcom quote pages for a better breakdown of this character type: Joey Tribianni, Haley Marshall, Anna of Arendell, and more

What is a type B personality?

The theory that people have either a type A or type B personality has been around since the 1950s. Two cardiologists — Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman — were looking at personality factors that may contribute to the risk of heart attacks and heart disease. Looking exclusively at a sampling of middle-aged men, they found that people with what they deemed “type A” personalities — who had a tendency to be competitive, driven, hurried, and easily angered — had a much higher risk of cardiovascular problems than those with “type B” personalities. It’s important to note Friedman and Rosenman did not take other important details like genetics and socioeconomic factors into account.

Per their research, people with a type B personality may have better heart health in the long run, but why is that the case? Is this something to do with stress, or something more physiological? Let’s take a look at some of the most common traits of people with type B personalities to find out.

What are the traits of a type B personality?

Having a type B personality is more than simply lacking the traits of a type A personality. In fact, it can be helpful to look at the two types of personalities as a continuum, with people typically leaning towards one side or another, but not necessarily having every trait associated with one type, and none associated with the other. According to VeryWell Mind, some common traits of people with type B personalities include:

  • Flexibility
  • Low stress levels
  • Relaxed attitude
  • Adaptability to change
  • Even-tempered
  • Laid-back
  • Tendency to procrastinate
  • Patience
  • Creativity

It’s also important to keep in mind that it’s possible for people with type A personalities to exhibit these traits, too, but someone with a type B personality experiences them more often than not. It’s also entirely possible for people with type B personalities to display classic type A traits, like being highly organized, driven, and goal-oriented. In essence, the pop culture idea that a type B is carefree, lazy, or not organized is simply not true. People with these personality traits can be every bit as successful, determined, and goal-oriented as a type A. They just won’t drive themselves to the edge, have a better handle on the (impossible) pursuit of perfectionism, and have shown to have less health issues related to stress.

How can you tell if you have a type B personality?

Given that personality types exist on a continuum, it can be hard to tell where, exactly, you fall on that. If that’s the case, here are a few questions you can ask yourself to get a better idea of whether you’re more of a type B:

  • Do you find joy in the journey and enjoy taking the time to complete a task?
  • Do you tend to be a pretty easy-going person?
  • When playing games, are you focused on just having fun?
  • Do you often wait until the last minute to do things?
  • When eating a meal, do you eat slowly and savor every bite?
  • Do you usually tackle tasks one at a time?
  • Are you able to relax when you are away from work?
  • Are you good at maintaining low stress levels?
  • Do you focus more on enjoying an activity or on finishing the task?

How can a type B personality impact a person’s health and relationships?

Going back to Friedman and Rosenman’s findings that people with type A personalities are at higher risk for cardiovascular disease — largely because of stress — does this mean that having a type B personality is healthier? Not exactly. People with type B personalities definitely do experience stress, but may be better at handling it. And having a type B personality doesn’t automatically “protect” you from the many factors that determine heart health, like genetics, or eating and exercise habits.

Something else to consider is that people with type B personalities may have an attitude towards their own health that is a little too laid back. If they tend not to stress as much about their health, they may not have the same discipline as type A people when it comes to routine health behaviors, or general maintenance, like staying on top of regular check-ups or health screenings.

And when it comes to relationships, having a type B personality can be both helpful and harmful. For example, being more laid back about everything may mean that you’re a good listener and better equipped to navigate minor problems. But on the other hand, always avoiding conflict isn’t ideal either. Sometimes it can be a challenge for type B people to stand up for themselves, instead of being taken advantage of by another person just because they want to keep the peace. The key is understanding where your relationship strengths and weaknesses lie, and then making extra effort in areas where you may fall short.

Type B personalities in pop culture

Opera star Robert Breault famously said, “It’s not that I’m a Type-B personality. It’s that I’m driven by a passionate, all-consuming desire to take it easy.” While that’s not exactly the definition of a Type B personality, that sort of laid back attitude has been a fixture of famous Type Bs on film and TV. Here are a few popular examples:

— Tyrion Lannister

George CostanzaRachel GreenRon WeaslyCarrie BradshawGina LinettiChandler BingTom Haverford

What are the cons of a type B personality?

Sadly people tend to look at a type B personality as second place to a type A. First, it’s important to remember that these character breakdowns are not in a hierarchal order. They just describe different kinds of people. Another downside of having a type B personality is that in the working world, people usually prefer someone with a type-A personality because they want a worker who strives to get things done quickly and efficiently. Type A people value maximum order and for a type B person, this personality difference can cause issues for an employer. Strict and fast deadlines aren’t a type B person’s favorite thing, but this doesn’t mean they can’t reach those goals. It just means they may have to do a bit more adjusting on their part.

What does a type C personality look like?

Now that you know the traits and characteristics of type A and type B personalities, haven’t you wondered what a type C person would be like? It’s pretty similar to type A, but someone with a type C personality is usually a very detail-oriented person who enjoys things that are controlled, measured, and stable. They appreciate accuracy, rationale, and logic. They are a strong advocate for objectivity and don’t believe emotions should get in the way of that. Type C people don’t enjoy being around people bursting with energy because they don’t like surprises. They are usually described as quiet, focused, or introverted. Other people see them as perfectionists who notice the details. It is also uncommon for them to show emotion.

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