The type A behaviour pattern and its associated personality variables in CHD, ulcer, asthma, non-psychosomatic patients and healthy controls

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

In recent years, the relation of the type A behaviour pattern to coronary heart disease (CHD) has been receiving growing attention. To date, however, no studies have examined the type A concept in its relation to other psychosomatic pathology. In the present study, five groups are compared in relation to type A behaviour: CHD, ulcer, asthma, nonpsychosomatic patients and healthy controls. Firstly, an attempt is made to establish whether a sample of white, male, South African CHD patients show a greater incidence of type A behaviour than do the other groups. Research conducted predominantly in the U.S.A. and to a lesser extent in Europe, indicates a higher incidence of type A behaviour among CHD patients. The second aspect of this investigation refers to the question of specificity of the type A behaviour to CHD. Clinical observations have suggested the possibility that type A behaviour may be characteristic of both CHD and duodenal ulcer patients. A further aim of the study is to illuminate those personality variables associated with the type A behaviour pattern. The sample was comprised of 70 subjects, there being 14 subjects in each group. Two questionnaires were individually administered: (1) The J.A.S. (the type A behaviour questionnaire) and (2) the PRF (personality research form). One of the J.A.S. scales, the speed and impatience scale, showed a significant difference between the CHD group and all the other groups (p<.05) while CHD alone scored higher only at the (p<.10) level. These results suggest that there is not sufficient evidence for viewing the type A behaviour as specific to CHD: the possibility exists that duodenal ulcer is also characterised by a greater incidence of type A behaviour, as measured by the type A scale of the J.A.S. The scales "job involvement" and "hard driving" of the: J.A.S. were not found to be significant in comparing the groups. The correlational analysis between the J.A.S. scales and the PRF scales showed achievement, aggression and dominance to be the central variables in type A behaviour. However, by constructing sets of PRF variables which predict the type A scales, we find that additional variables appear: when in the set of predictors, the variable "autonomy", is negatively correlated to the type A scale. This suggests possible element of dependence which is further supported by an indication of a positive correlation between "succorance" (appearing amongst the set of predictors) and the "hard driving and competitiveness scale". A high correlation between the PRF scales of aggression and defendence suggests the possibility of viewing the aggressive behaviour characteristic of the type A person as a defence mechanism against underlying insecurity. This was already postulated in the psychosomatic theories of Dunbar (1947) and Arlow (1945).

Bibliography: leaf 132-145.