Magazine article Science News

Type A: From the Nursery to the Boardroom

Magazine article Science News

Type A: From the Nursery to the Boardroom

Article excerpt

Moms with certain Type A characteristics are more likely to deliver newborns with intense behavioral styles, according to a new study.

Previous investigations have shown that Type A parents tend to have teenagers who are competitive and hard-driving (SN: 8/31/85, p.133), a pattern that persists into adulthood and may increase the risk of heart disease. While many psychologists say teens learn their Type A tendencies from Mom and Dad, the new study suggests that certain aspects of the Type A drive may surface at birth -- long before parenting styles come into play.

Pediatrician Steven J. Parker of Boston City Hospital and David E. Barrett of Clemson (S.C.) University studied 72 healthy, middle-class women who were pregnant with their first child. Four weeks before delivery, the women completed the Jenkins Activity Survey (JAS), which identifies Type A traits such as competitiveness and impatience. Although the test is designed to elicit Type A temperament regardless of employment status, nearly all the pregnant women in the study worked at jobs outside the home.

The team discovered that 53 percent of the volunteers fit the Type A criteria, as measured by the job involvement scale, one component of the JAS. These women tended to get highly involved in tasks both at home and at the office, Parker says. For example, women said they frequently finished other people's sentences in order to speed the conversation and described themselves as people who enjoy competition on the job or in outside activities.

Hard-driving women tended to deliver newborns who responded vigorously to their environment, Parker says. All babies born to women in the study were given a standardized behavioral test within 48 hours of birth. Babies of Type A mothers cried significantly more during the test, the team reports in the March PEDIATRICS. …

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