A Self-Attribution-Reactance Model of Recovery from Injury in Type A Individuals1


  • 1

    This research was supported by the Biomedical Research Support Grant Program, #S07RR07092, Division of Research Resources, National Institute of Health.

  • The authors wish to thank the staff and patients of the Salt Lake Podiatry Center for their cooperation. We are indebted to Dr. Michael Lowe for his assistance throughout the study and to Marina Marcroft for her assistance in the analysis of the data.

Requests for reprints should be sent to Frederick Rhodewalt, Department of Psychology, University of Utah, Salt Lakecity, UT84112.


A self-attribution-reactance model of Type A behavior and medical recovery is introduced. The model proposes that Type As' bias to view themselves as causal for all outcomes makes them sensitive to events (illness, injury, or treatment) that reduce their personal control. Consequently, Type As are more likely than Type Bs to respond to such events with reactant behavior (noncompliance with treatment) in order to restore their perceptions of control and freedom. In a test of the model, 32 patients being treated for running-related injuries were assessed for Type A behavior, preference for control over and involvement with treatment, and attributions for and reactions to their injury at the beginning of treatment. The physician's ratings of progress through treatment made at the conclusion of the study served as the measure of recovery. Results supported the model in that extreme Type As were more likely than moderate Type As and Type Bs to be judged as exhibiting poor recovery. Moreover, Type As judged to have made poor progress made more extreme self-attributions and were more angry about their injuries than were Type A and B patients judged to have made good progress. The implications of the findings for promoting compliance are discussed.