Psychological Reports, 1990, 66, 768-770.

O Psychological Reports 1990

THE ENVIRONMENT AND ITS RELATIONSHIP TO T H E TYPE A BEHAVIOR PATTERN IN MIDDLE. AND OLD AGE, A PILOT STUDY' CATHARINE A. KOPAC School of Nursing, The Catholic U n i u e r s i ~of America Summary.-21 men and 76 women between the ages o l 68 0 and 97.0 yr. were administered the Geriatric Scale of Recent Life Events, the Jenluns Activity Survey, the Framingham Type A Scale, and a measure designed to assess factors in the environment believed to contribute to [he development and maintenance of the Type A Behavior Pattern. Differences were found between the environment of old age and the retrospective middle-age environment. Results support that Type A behavior emerges in response to environmental elicitors. The Type A behavior pattern is known to be an independent risk factor in the development of coronary heart disease; it has been described as a "characteristic action-emotion c3mplex whch is exhibited by those individuals who are engaged i n a relatively chronic scruggle to obtain an unlimited number of poorly defined things from their environment i n the shortest period of time, and if necessary against the opposing efforts of other things or persons in the same environment" (3, p. 84). However, almost all studies have treated the environment as a trait variable, thereby ignoring the eliciting situations. The few studies done to examine the environments of Type A individuals support the concept that the environment plays a role in the development and maintenance of the pattern with priests, monks, and white collar males (1, 2, 5). This study focuses on a model which viewed the environment as a mediating factor in the development and maintenance of the pattern. The purpose was to identify differences in the perception of the Type A environment at retrospective middle-age compared to old age. The question was explored by gathering qualitative descriptive data contrasting the retrospective perceptions of middle-age with the current perceptions of the physical and social environment in old age.

METHOD Participants were 21 men and 76 women between 68 and 97 yr. of age (mean age of men 81 yr., SD 7.1 yr.; mean age of women 81 yr., SD of 5.5 yr.) who were residents of a life-care community. Mean number of years of education for men was 17.3 and 16.1 for women. With few exceptions, subjects were retired from white-collar or professional occupations. Three standardized measures and one environmental questionnaire were administered. The Jenkins Activity Survey-Form N (8) and the Framingham Type A Scale (4) were the two measures of Type A Behavior. The Geriatric Scale of Recent L i e Events (6) was used to measure subjects' perceptions of life events as important and over which they had no control. The measure of the environment was a list of factors, arranged in a yes-no format of questions, believed to contribute to the development and maintenance of the behavior pattern as affirmed in a literature review (7). The factors, organized to allow a simple analysis of differences between present 'This invest1g3c1onwas supported, in part, by a Human Resources and Services Administration National Research Service Award (42 USC 2981-1) from the Division of Nursing. Request reprints from Dr. Catharine A. Kopac, School of Nursing, The Catholic University of America, Washington, DC 20064.



(old age) and past (middle-age) retrospective perceptions, assessed the presence of a Type A environment as defined by upward mobility, values, s c h e d h g , time, competition, deadlines, and frequent crises. For noncareer housewives, the factors also included schedules and crises, and added responsibility, isolation, emotional dependence, and the presence of success and accomplishment. A score of 1 was given for a yes response and a 0 for a no response; separate scores were obtained for the (old age) environment and the retrospective (middle-age) environment. In addition, a brief questionnaire containing a few demographic items, several questions about perceived well-being, and an inventory of illnesses commonly affecting older people was completed. Volunteer subjects were solicited by a letter stating that participants were eligible for a drawing for a gift certificate. Those who responded to the solicitation were scheduled for an appointment with the investigator who explained the purpose of the study, the nature of the different measures, and the questionnaire. A further appointment was made for the administration of measures and a debriefing interview.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION Environment The scores for the Type A environment during middle-age ranged from 00 to 1.00 with a mean of .56 and a SD of .25. The recalled Type A environment in midtile-age was significantly correlaced with education ( r = .21, p

The environment and its relationship to the Type A behavior pattern in middle and old age, a pilot study.

21 men and 76 women between the ages of 68.0 and 97.0 yr. were administered the Geriatric Scale of Recent Life Events, the Jenkins Activity Survey, th...
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