Do you know what the “Ostrich Effect” is? It is a cognitive bias which causes people to avoid potentially unpleasant information. As the name implies, it comes from the way an ostrich hides its head in a hole, but actually an ostrich does not do that in reality (I’ll discuss it later). First, I will introduce what the Ostrich Effect” is so that any of us can be aware of and potentially avoid this bias.
Ostrich Effect can be seen in a variety of situations. However, it can be observed more in financial areas like investments for instance. According to the study from Carnegie Mellon University in 2015, shareholders did not check their portfolio when their stock performed poorly. And, 9.5% of the login frequency on the stock trade website dropped. Also, when their fear rate against risk of their investment was high, they avoided checking their portfolio as well. On the other hand, when they were getting returns or holding only bonds (which basically means safer than stocks), they would more frequently check their portfolios. They basically avoid reality when they feel “unpleasant”, and they prefer something “pleasant”.
It can be also observed in a heath situation. When people with this bias get some specific symptoms, they would avoid learning more details of the symptoms, ending up to be much worse because they could not treat the symptoms properly well. There is a bit of a funny story that I found an scientific article on Frontiers. It is about why some people believe in conspiracy theories or misinformation beliefs regarding Covid-19 (the website link is available below). Based on the study, people who belive in conspiracy/ misinformation tend not to follow traditional media such as newspaper, and TV because of mistrust against it, but instead, they check social media more and express thoughts without solid evidence or sources. And, their mental health matters as well. Even though anxiety was not one of the elements leading them to believe in conspiracies (except for in Hong Kong), depression was actually a facture that affected them across many countries.
There is not a clear association between the ostrich effect and this study; however, as a theory, I could say that people avoiding reality (trustable sources of information), can easily fall into cheap information (random online articles/social media) because they don’t want to feel unpleasant. It is usually quite troublesome and difficult (unpleasant) to find the true sources among millions of sources of information or by reading through through all of the studies. It is much much easier to get convenient information without sources from random websites or social media to support our confirmation bias (pleasant). This is just my theory based on the study above. Anyway, let me talk the reality of ostrich next.
They actually do not hide their heads into holes. Sometimes, it can look like they do, but they actualy are just digging a shallow hole to make nests. Unlike usual birds, ostriches can’t fly, so they make their nests on the ground instead of in trees. After female ostriches have laid their eggs in the hole, male ostriches sit on their nests so that they can protect their eggs from predators, while incubating their eggs. Considering that fact, it is funny that some people believe this myth. Why am I writing the article about “Ostrich Effect”? Showing off knowledge? No, I wanted to share my recent findings related with this myth.
I wanted to make a fun of this myth with my art somehow. And that’s how this has turned out. It can be a bit childish, but the Ostrich is having a party with underground mice gangs. I have never painted ostrich, so it was an interesting process to paint it. I have never noticed before that ostriches have a lot of tiny “hairs” all over their body. And ostriches look kinda scary, so I intentionally made it look kinder and cuter. It is because if it looked scary, the ostrich would seem like it’s trying to eat the mouse (lol). I hope you could enjoy this article 🙂
HiRO Williams (Artist)
Frontiers | Beliefs in Conspiracy Theories and Misinformation About COVID-19: Comparative Perspectives on the Role of Anxiety, Depression and Exposure to and Trust in Information Sources | Psychology (frontiersin.org)