Ostrich Effect

The brain receives so much data at any given moment that it has to filter out some data in order to be able to attend and making meaning of incoming sensory information. When that occurs, we delete, distort, and generalize reality. Authors Samantha Le and Shana Lebowitz offer a useful categorization of cognitive biases that negatively impact accurate and effective decision making. This month we will explore four and offer ways to use States of Mind/Energy Sources to correct the inaccuracies in thinking.

The ostrich effect bias is a tendency to ignore dangerous or negative information by ignoring it or burying one’s head in the sand. Sometimes we do this when we have already made up our mind about something. It may also be an indication we only want to consider the positive aspects of something. Here are some strategies for supporting someone with this bias:

What about this information is hard for you to hear?
How does this information fit with what you already know?
How might ignoring this information affect our decision in the long run?
How might we include this information in a way that is productive to our thinking?

Listen for examples of the ostrich effect. What might be some areas of your work where this bias is getting in your way? What are some of the patterns you notice in your organization about hearing difficult data or information?

Lee, S.& Lebowitz, S. “20 cognitive biases that screw up your decisions,” Business Insider. August 26, 2015.