Research Findings : Homemakers Face Peril of Stress Illness
Housewives who cram too many activities into their day run as great a risk of heart disease and other stress disorders as compulsive businessmen, psychologists say.
“Type A” homemakers are more demanding of themselves in their daily work schedules and try to do too many things too quickly and too perfectly, Dr. B. Kent Houston of the University of Kansas said during a symposium at a recent convention of the American Psychological Assn. in Los Angeles.
Researchers define “Type A” personalities as aggressive, competitive, driven people who generate much of the stress under which they work. Their personalities are in sharp contrast to “Type B” people, who psychologists say are more easygoing and less likely to seek out stressful situations.
Houston and a team of researchers at the University of Kansas studied 95 housewives considered Type A or Type B according to their responses in interviews.
“Of the 95 homemakers,” Houston said, “40% of them were Type A and 60% were Type B. We found the Type A women to be more impatient, time-urgent, competitive and aggressive.” Researchers also found that most of the Type A women in the study reported feeling unappreciated for the work they perform in the home.
All the women participating in the study were defined as middle class.
“We also found that the Type A homemakers suffered more disturbances in marital relationships,” Houston said. “This doesn’t mean that they were on the verge of divorce, but that they were just more dissatisfied with their marriages than Type B women.”
The investigation was based on the idea that Type A housewives are a greater risk for heart disease, hypertension and psychological stress than homemakers with Type B personalities.
“The Type A women in the study reported poorer physical health,” Houston said. “This is significant because it is tied to findings on working Type A women and could mean that Type A homemakers may not care for their health or tend to ignore early symptoms of serious disorders.”
Houston said the concept of Type A behavior was first identified in men because most research on the relationship between the trait and cardiovascular disease has been done on men.
“Type A women have been found to have a comparable risk for premature coronary heart disease as Type A men,” Houston said.