Please note: The following post is best read after reading the one that precedes it chronologically: Psycho-Sitter.
The post on Psycho-Sitter prompted many comments and I am so grateful to you who shared your experiences. You’ve given us all more to think about and perhaps prevented us from getting into similar situations. My friend, an assistant professor of psychology, saw the post in terms of her own field of study. I used the term Psycho-Sitter mostly because I liked the alliteration, but it was, of course, not technically accurate. Here’s an armchair analysis of the sitter from the doctor, who emphasizes that this is only speculation. It’s interesting, though, especially as we all search for the best way to select the right people to care for our kids. And, of course, this kind of study of human behavior is always fun.
Although several theories about personality exist, one of the most popular approaches is the “Big 5” (e.g., Costa & McCrae, 1992) which characterizes an individual’s personality on 5 primary factors. Of course to get a reliable assessment, an individual would need to complete a personality inventory, which could have tens to hundreds of items on which they rate their behaviors. So this “assessment” of Psycho-sitter should not be considered reliable or valid, but it is fun to speculate.
1. Openness: in short, this factor characterizes people as being open to new experiences and creative…or not. A typical item might be “I have a vivid imagination”. Psycho-sitter assessment: Low. A vivid imagination would have resulted in finding some (any) way to entertain Ava.
2. Conscientiousness: people who are high on this factor are always prepared, pay attention to details, and are self-disciplined. Psycho-sitter assessment: Low. Lawrenceville, NJ is not a big place…but if she was conscientious, she would have been sure to bring the directions just in case.
3. Extraversion: people high in extraversion are sociable, enthusiastic, and full of energy. Heidi must be high on this scale. I bet she is fun to be around. Psycho-sitter assessment: Low (but quick to judge those who are high).
4. Agreeableness: people who are high on this factor are polite, compassionate, and empathetic; people who are low tend to insult others (or their children, in Sarah and Heidi’s case), so Psycho-sitter seems to fall more on the disagreeable end of this factor.
5. Neuroticism: people who are high on this factor tend to be emotional and easily stressed. They may become frustrated easily. My friend was hesitant to rate this one—not having met the subject, but I would say the sitter frustrated easily and was easily stressed, which ranks her High in this category.