The term "type D" personality is used to describe several different personality types, which can sometimes be confusing, since, on occasion, the term describes entirely different personality traits. As a general rule, psychologists describe people with distressed personalities as “Type D,” but the term can also be used in the A, B, C, D personality framework, in which case it can describe someone who is reliable but who has little motivation or creativity. Furthermore, the term may also be used to describe someone with a very results-driven, direct personality, just to add to the confusion.
In the sense of a distressed personality, a type D personality is one that is characterized by a tendency towards negativity. Someone with this personality type may experience a lot of stress, anger, worry, hostility, tension, and other negative and distressing emotions. Classically, this type is also characterized by low self-esteem and social inhibitions, and a tendency towards depression.
Research has suggested that people with this type of personality may be at increased risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems. There are, however, ways to combat the negativity, especially when someone is aware that he or she has this personality type. These techniques can range from using regular therapy sessions to talk over life issues to working hard to create a structured life that promotes social interaction and healthy friendships.
Within the “A, B, C, D” framework used by some people in the business world, a type D personality is a highly dependable, but not very creative. People with this personality type are supposed to enjoy structured, orderly lives and workplaces, and they will work hard when called upon to do so. People who believe in this framework may seed the workplace with these dependable, compassionate, friendly individuals to balance the workplace.
Under yet another personality assessment framework, the D stands for "driven," and it is used for a very aggressive, outgoing, decisive attitude. Type D's in this case are leaders, with firm ideas about how to get things done, and they often relish challenges and risks. They may also have a low tolerance for wasted time and what they perceive as frivolities, which can sometimes make them a bit intense, especially in already tense situations.