Questions for Close Reading (p. 435)
1. The thesis is clearly stated in the first sentence of paragraph 4: “We believe in Type A—a triumph for a notion with no particular scientific validity.” Prior to paragraph 4, Gleick illustrates the cultural pervasiveness of the Type A category and traces its identification to Friedman and Rosenman’s studies; these studies attempted to link heart disease to a set of personality traits clustered around the “theme of impatience” (paragraph 2). Following the statement of his thesis, Gleick challenges the scientific validity of Type A, while observing its compelling cultural relevance. He concludes the essay in paragraph 12 by reiterating the thesis; he says that linking the Type A phenomenon to cardiac problems “made for poor medical research,” but “it stands nonetheless as a triumph of social criticism.”
2. Friedman and Rosenman’s study, “Association of Specific Overt Behavior Pattern with Blood and Cardiovascular Findings,” looked at connections between heart disease (including high blood pressure) and Type A behaviors. Gleick gives several reasons why the study was “obvious and false” and “a wildly flawed piece of research” (5). First, only a small number of people were studied. Group A consisted of only 83 people. Second, the subjects were all men. Third, the research subjects were not chosen at random. Instead, Friedman and Rosenman selected subjects who shared similar professional and personal characteristics. They were generally “white-collar male employees of large businesses” (5) who exhibited stressed behavior, who smoked, and who were overweight. Fourth, rather than acknowledging these shared characteristics and the possibility that they might be associated with heart disease, Friedman and Rosenman instead claimed that the Type A personality—rather than the subjects’ unhealthy behaviors—was responsible for Group A’s medical problems. Gleick also cites the researchers’ amorphous definition of Type B as evidence of...
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