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What Is a Type D Personality and How Do You Make the Most Of It?
Dark haired woman facing sandy beach

What Is a Type D Personality and How Do You Make the Most Of It?

You’ve probably heard of Type A and B personalities. One is often described as hyper action-oriented while the other is more laid-back.


Common knowledge says that you’re either one or the other by nature. However, did you know that there are two more personality types recognized by psychologists?

Type C is similar to Type A personality, but it's less about doing things fast and more about doing them right (quality, accuracy, and with a strong sense of right and wrong).

The final of the four recognized behavior types is Type D personality. Type D is a bit harder to explain, and much different from the others.

So, what is Type D personality like compared to the other personality types? And, if you believe you might be Type D, how do you make the most of your personality type? Let’s talk about it.

A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.

– John Lubbock

What is Type D personality?

Originally termed by psychologist Johan Denollet of Tilburg University, Type D personality is quite different from the first three personality types, as it’s based more on the challenges of the personality type as opposed to the advantages (or neutral qualities).

According to Denollet, "this is the type of patient that tells you everything is okay, that there are no problems, but you can sense that something is going on, something is not quite right.”

Type D personalities are distressed and anxious types. They’re more likely to be lonely and develop both clinical anxiety and depression.

However, Type D is also accustomed to hiding their feelings and pretending like everything is okay. They’re also more likely to display behavioral inhibition (or BI), which is the tendency to avoid new situations out of a feeling of discomfort.

Type D personalities are likely to have a strong and deeply-seated negative self-talk, experiencing low self-worth and a fear of rejection.

Surprisingly, in a study published by Denollet himself, his team found that as much as 21% of the U.S. population could have a Type D personality.

If you think you might be Type D, you can take this short questionnaire by Harvard Health to find out:

How to make the most of Type D personality


So, if you’re a Type D personality, how do you make the most of this knowledge? Is it really true that Type D personalities suffer from a fundamental disadvantage?

First, it’s important to keep in mind that real people aren’t so one-dimensional. You probably have qualities from multiple personality types, even if you display the greatest tendency towards one of them.

There are no studies confirming if or how someone can change from one of these basic personality types to another, however, there are studies that show that we can change our personality in a fundamental sense.

You’re not locked into one permanent set of personality traits. You can change and adapt in any way you’d like with enough work and the willingness to face your inner demons (as if often necessary for such change).

In addition, every personality trait has its own positives and negatives. Type D personalities are no different.

As a Type D personality, you might be more inclined to anxiety and stress, however, you also have a kind of strength to push back against those conditions and push on. If you can learn how to better manage stress and anxiety– or, better yet, cut through to the source of it– you can take advantage of the emotional strength of the Type D personality in a healthier and more effective way.

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