Graeme Newell

Ostrich Effect

Our brain has a powerful preference for good news. That’s why so many of us stick our heads in the sand, going out of our way to avoid negative news. In one study, participants were asked to envision situations where they had avoided monitoring their own progress. Then, they were asked to rank reasons they hadn’t self-monitored. One of the most frequent reasons was that people experienced negative emotions when they even considered working towards a goal. A lot of people said they worried about negative feedback or criticism on their progress.. The anxiety of facing down a challenge is often enough to deter us from really trying.

To avoid the ostrich effect, keep the dose of negativity manageable. Break bad news up into bite-sized chunks so it’s not so overwhelming.

Also, give yourself a reward for ingesting negative, but needed, information. For example, promise yourself a treat on days when you check your bank balance.