Psychophysiologic correlates of Type A behavior: Comments on Houston (1983) and Holmes (1983)

Richard J. Contrada, Rex A. Wright, David C. Glass

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


On the basis of a literature review, B. K. Houston (1983, Journal of Research in Personality, 17, 22-39) concluded that there is a reliable but relatively weak association between Type A (coronary-prone) behavior and heightened physiologic reactivity. D. S. Holmes (1983, Journal of Research in Personality, 17, 40-47) contends that by failing to take into account dependent measures yielding null results, Houston overestimated the consistency with which A/B differences have been obtained. In the present article, we show that it is critical to take into account the method used to assess Type A behavior. Structured Interview assessments show a more consistent association with reactivity than those based on the Jenkins Activity Survey. We then point out that, for certain physiologic measures, null effects do not necessarily reflect an absence of A/B differences in sympathetic-adrenomedullary activity. Other issues that are discussed include the role of situational parameters in eliciting hyperresponsiveness in Type A's, the problem of evaluating the magnitude and importance of A/B effects, and the need for a more theoretical approach to the study of Type A behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-30
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Research in Personality
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1985
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Social Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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