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The idea of Type A and Type B personalities originated in the 1950s, coined by Meyer Friedman and Ray Rosenman. Interestingly, the two researchers were cardiologists, not psychologists. Their objective was to study any correlation between personality types and risk of heart disease. Over a period of eight years, they studied over 3,000 men, each of whom answered a lengthy questionnaire about his personality. Based on answers to these questions, the men were cleanly divided into two groups. The researchers concluded that people characterized as Type A were nearly twice as likely to develop coronary heart disease than Type B people.
That said, this study should be taken with a hefty dose of salt. First of all, the subject group was only comprised of men. In addition, it was eventually made public that this research was largely funded by the tobacco industry. The backers wanted to see if there was any link between heart disease and smoking cigarettes. Subsequent research has found there is very little correlation between cardiac disease and certain personality traits associated with Type A people. Also, while the Type A/Type B binary has lasted and become very popular, they are ultimately somewhat arbitrary. People's personalities are way more complex and fluid.
Meta-analyses of prospective studies on coronary heart disease, type A personality, and hostility. (NIH)
"The present meta-analyses cover all prospective studies until the end of 1998. The correlation coefficient r is used as effect size to yield information on the population effect size R and variance. Several analyses have been carried out to stratify for disease endpoints, samples (healthy population, CHD patients), and methods used to determine TAP or hostility."
16 Signs You're A Little (Or A Lot) Type A (Huffington Post)
"We use it in conversation all the time, generally followed by a knowing chuckle or nod of the head. "Type A" has become a pop psychology buzzword and catch-all descriptor for the more driven, anxiety-prone go-getters among us. We all have some sense of what it suggests, but the actual meaning and legitimacy of Type A Behavior theory are less well-known."