A host mom who’s looking hopefully at a rematch situation writes us for advice … Her soon-to-be-ending match has been plagued with personality conflict.
Now, she has a choice between two promising au pairs– but what criteria should she prioritize? On the one hand, she needs a good driver, and driving skills can be taught. On the other hand, she needs someone she feels comfortable with. How should HopefulAboutRematch choose between her two options??
As she chooses, HopefulAboutRematch might want to keep in mind is whether or how much she is being influenced by The Contrast Effect.
The Contrast Effect
The Contrast Effect is a psychological bias where something looks more ‘better’ or more ‘worse’ based on the features of what came right before it. For Host Parents choosing their next au pair, the contrast effect can make us more sensitive than perhaps we should be to the presence or absence of a quality that mattered in our previous au pair relationship.
When we’ve had a great relationship with an au pair who loves ice cream, we might look for another au pair with the same love of ice cream, hoping to re-create the good relationship. Similarly, when we’ve been troubled by an au pair who can’t read a map, we may make map-reading our #2 priority. In both these examples, the contrast effect would be working to our disadvantage.
That said, we may honestly believe that our previous positive relationship was all due to one criterion– and so it would make sense to maximize on this.
For this HopefulAboutRematch Host Mom, her experience of what didn’t work with her previous au pair may be making her put more weight on that characteristic than she otherwise might. But then again…
What advice can we offer HopefulAboutRematch — both on the specifics of Driver vs Personality and the more general concern of the contrast effect?
What do you think?
Hello and help!
I am a first-timer reading your blog, wish I had read it 5 months ago before I chose my current, soon-to-be-rematched AP.
On paper she was perfect — had more childcare certifications you could possibly amass in her short professional experience as a nursery school teacher. She seemed cheerful in photos and on the phone, but fast forward 4 months living with her, and she is passive aggressive, depressed bordering on morose, and I just don’t like her as a person — we have horribly “off” chemistry, and she plays ‘victim’ to me every chance she gets.
I am relieved we are in a re-match process, and hoping to find my next au pair FAST (although I don’t want to rush things, I only have 8 days to choose a new au pair to make the next “drop” window for my agency, which only brings au pairs over once a month).
I have two candidates I really like, both Eastern Europrean. One is Russian, one is Serbian. Both speak decent English, and are on the more “mature” side — one is 25, the other is 23. One has experience with multiple children (two sets of twins), the other has experience with only one child at a time.
The AP candidate I prefer has less driving experience than the other, while the other AP has more driving experience AND multiples experience (I have twins, so this is somewhat important but not required). I am wondering if it is true that even candidates with less driving experience can quickly learn after a few months of intensive US-based drivers ed courses?
The reason I am struggling with my decision is that the deal breaker with my previous AP was NOT a matter of driving experience, or qualifications – which she had plenty of. For me, it was a totally cultural and chemical mis-match, so I’m realizing that while driving skills are something that can be taught / learned and paid for to “fix” (sometimes), the cultural and chemistry fit is either there, or it’s not there — so which is the more important thing to hire for?
Thanks! — HopefulAboutRematch
Image: Contrast 1 from Rebecca_bexxi on Flickr