Type D Personality and How It Influences Us

April 19, 2019
Those with Type D personality tend to be more negative and also more apprehensive due to their fear of being rejected and/or disapproved by others.

Today we’re going to discuss Type D personality. But first, let’s say that throughout history, many people have attempted to categorize personality types and disorders. Further, there are many old antecedents.

Hippocrates’ Four Temperament theory is an example of this. There’s the melancholic (pessimistic), the sanguine (optimistic), the choleric (irritable), and the phlegmatic (apathetic).

These temperaments were determined by the relative proportion of the human body four humors (fluids: black bile, blood, yellow bile, and phlegm). Note that in the original Greek theory of the four temperaments, the current attempts to discover a biogenetic basis of personality were already reflected.

What exactly do we mean by “personality”?

One can speak of personality as a mixture of temperamental factors (determined by biology) and characterological factors (determined by the environment). So, both genes and environment influence each individual personality.

There’s a certain consensus when it comes to understanding personality as the union of two entities. The main components of personality would be:

  • Temperament. It refers to the innate, genetic, and constitutional influences that determine someone’s personality.
  • Character. It refers to psychosocial, learned, factors, that influence the personality. Much of each person’s character develops throughout their specific experiences and socialization processes.
seemingly distressed woman with type d personality

Personality and health

But why would out of all of those people who possess a certain genetic marker of a particular condition, only some of them develop it, and others don’t? In this regard, the role played by the personality of each predisposed individual, and their subsequent development of a disorder becomes highly relevant.

Is personality associated with certain psychophysiological (the branch of physiology that is concerned with the relationship between mental and physical processes) response patterns? What mental and physical patterns regulate predisposition to a disease?

The connection between personality and illness, between the psychological and the physiological, isn’t easy to establish. In fact, there are still many questions about this relationship.

Different personality or behavior patterns were established in order to try to answer those questions. Thus, the models centered on personality traits, proposed by Suls and Rittenhouse, try to explain the relationship between behavior and health from temperamental and character traits that determine why people act the way we do.

Behavior patterns

The patterns of behavior or personality to which we refer here are denoted with the letters A, C and D. Each of them entails a set of health risks.

Type A behavior pattern is related to cardiovascular disorders. People with Type C behavior patterns are more likely to develop cancer. Finally, the Type D behavior pattern (or Type D personality) is associated with depression and anxiety. And these people are more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

The type D personality

The typical characteristic of a Type D personality is the maximum containment of negative emotions. People who have this type of personality inhibit their emotional expression in a systematic way.

For example, social inhibition is a common characteristic of their behavior. In addition, they tend to present subjective feelings of tension, anxiety, anger, and sadness.

Social inhibition consists of a tendency to inhibit the expression of emotions in social interactions. In contrast, the definition of negative affectivity is a style of coping that induces individual differences in psychological distress, somatic complaints, and self-esteem.

This combination of negative affectivity and social inhibition is present in people with Type D personality, and it negatively impacts their health. For example, studies demonstrate that depression and social inhibition are factors that can increase mortality due to an acute coronary event.

“He who walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm. Let go of the friends who are no longer uplifting you. Spend time with people who inspire you to be better.”

-Proverbs 13:20-

Type D personality and coronary artery disease

As we can see, the Type D personality is strongly associated with mortality in those who also have coronary artery disease (CAD). People who’ve already had a heart attack and who are Type D personality present a higher risk of suffering a second acute episode.

man holding his chest

In addition, a Type D personality can also indirectly promote coronary artery disease. Certain behaviors, such as a sedentary lifestyle and, excessive alcohol and tobacco consumption make it even worse.

There’s also a negative incidence of this personality pattern. This is in regard to their adherence to medical and psychological recovery treatments, that is.

Further, note that a high level of chronic psychosocial stress in those people who have both Type D personality and coronary artery disease would increase the risk of myocardial ischemia, ventricular arrhythmias, and even lethal conditions.

Thus, the Type D personality is a predictor of a higher chance of mortality due to some sort of cardiovascular disorder. Further, various studies claim that people with Type D personalities have a higher chance to die at a younger age, than those categorized under a different type of personality.