Date of Completion

January 1979


Sociology, General




A useful perspective for understanding behavior is one which recognizes the interactional character of the person and the sociocultural context within which the person behaves. The Coronary-Prone (Type A) Behavior Pattern has resisted understanding to the extent that very little is known of its etiology. The purpose of this research was to contribute to our understanding of the social and psychological underpinnings of Coronary-Prone Behavior. The thesis which was developed and evaluated empirically was that the sociocultural milieu of the United States induces, channels and constrains individuals who occupy certain statuses and who have certain personality characteristics to exhibit the Coronary-Prone Behavior Pattern as a form of "strident conformity".^ We hypothesized that five factors would predict Coronary-Prone Behavior. The extent to which socioeconomic status, size of social support group, demanding childrearing, self-esteem and need for power predicted Coronary-Prone Behavior score was assessed through hierarchical multiple regression.^ This is a secondary analysis of data gathered for the Southeastern Connecticut (SECON) Heart Study under the direction of Walter Wardwell and Claus Bahnson. Three samples were drawn of white males aged 35 to 64. The myocardial infarct (MI) group consisted of definite or probable first MI's who survived long enough to be tested during convalescence. The 'other sick' group was comprised of men who were hospitalized with lifethreatening or potentially disabling diseases. The 'normal' group was a random sample of the Norwich-Groton-New London Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area. Both the 'other sick' and 'normal' groups were age matched to the MI group.^ Generally, the results of the regression analyses failed to support the hypotheses. There were some weak, non-significant trends in the expected direction among all respondents and among the extreme scorers on Coronary-Prone Behavior. In the analysis of the three nosological groups, the results do not support our hypothesis that the five factors are more potent predictors of the behavior in men who have had a confirmed MI. Only in the 'normal' group did the five factors account for a statistically significant proportion of the variance in Coronary-Prone Behavior score. In this same group only low self esteem significantly contributed to Behavior score variance when the effects of the other variables were controlled.^ Since the overall pattern of the findings was not as hypothesized explanations for the lack of support for the strident conformity hypothesis were sought in the conceptual framework and methods of the study. While it is clear that the social forces and psychological characteristics do exist it appears that they do not play a significant role in the etiology of Coronary-Prone Behavior. Given the striking similarity between the dominant norms and values of American society and the Coronary-Prone Behavior Pattern and the weakness of their correlation in the lives of the men in our samples it would seem that the Behavior Pattern is a kind of perversion of the Western norm which some people adopt for reasons yet unknown. The tentative support for the hypothesis in the random sample suggests that certain improvements in the operationalization of variables and in the experimental design might have produced stronger association. Suggestions for future research are made for these improvements as well as for others derived from what was learned in the study. ^