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Why do so many LEOs have a ‘Type A’ personality?

You must be a certain type of person – adventuresome, traditional, organized – to be drawn to a career in law enforcement.

By Megan Wells, Police1 Contributor

There is no question about it, Type A personalities are common in law enforcement. Type A tendencies can be good for the meticulous trade, but they can also mean major setbacks and limitations. What does it mean to be Type A, why is it so prevalent in public safety, and what implications comes along with Type A characteristics?

What are common traits of Type A personalities?

Personality types were first researched by Meyer Friedman, M.D. and R.H. Rosenman, M.D., who were trying to find a correlation between mental state and physical health.

Friedman and Rosenman monitored patients with heart conditions in a hospital waiting room. Unlike most patients, who waited patiently, some people seemed unable to sit in their seats for long. They tended to sit on the edge of their seats and stood up frequently. This observation began to outline the Type A personality.

Take the quiz: Are you Type A?

Since the Type A label was created, further research has defined what it means to be Type A. According to Simply Psychology, people with a Type A personality are typically:

  • Competitive
  • Self-critical
  • Have high work involvement
  • Extroverts
  • Feel a constant sense of urgency
  • Concerned with time management
  • Organized

Do these traits sound familiar? It turns out Type A is relatively common among cops.

Type A and LEOs

There is little room for error in this profession, which is why a self-critical, competitive and organized person is the perfect fit for law enforcement. Police1 contributor Dr. Dorothy McCoy created a test to determine “Would you be a good cop ?” Many of the points on her list include Type A traits that are also common traits among good cops:

  • Maintaining traditions
  • Preferring rules and regulations
  • Desiring continuity
  • Seeing that things get done correctly over creatively
  • Organized

Just because Type A traits can lead to “good cop” behavior, the personality isn’t always favorable. Those with Type A personalities put a lot of pressure on themselves, as well as on others, to follow the same degree of order and intensity. Too many employees within a department who have Type A personalities can lead to low morale, so it’s important to keep a balance to maintain a healthy work atmosphere.

Words of warning for Type A

A constant need for perfection and order means Type A traits can contribute to stress, making it a double-edged sword for this already stressful occupation. It’s not surprising that LEOs have an increased risk for stress-related health issues like high blood pressure. Running on high adrenaline in high-stress situations too frequently is unhealthy, and it’s important to find an outlet to help you cope with stress, such as yoga, running, meditating, fishing or camping.

Type A personalities are drawn to a career in law enforcement because the key traits are practically copied from a LEO’s job description. If you are Type A, it’s important to understand what positive and negative habits accompany your personality traits.

The Police1 Lifestyle content series is written for the off-duty police officer. Here you’ll find content on everything from the latest automotive and entertainment trends to tips and tricks for financial planning – all written from a police officer’s perspective, with an eye toward what makes you unique even when you’re not on patrol.