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Ostrich Effect - What is it?

Ostrich Tactics - How We Deceive Ourselves and Avoid Problems

What is the ostrich tactic? If you want to know more about the psychological phenomenon, you've come to the right place! We humans face problems and challenges on a regular basis. But some seem so big that we prefer to bury our heads in the sand to avoid them. Freely according to the motto: What I cannot see does not exist. A behavior that is usually more familiar from children, when they cover their eyes and scream "Lalala, I can't hear you". But as we all had to learn once painfully: Problems grow and bring more serious consequences if we do not deal with their solution.

In this article, I would therefore like to give you everything you need to know about the ostrich tactic. From the definition, about the reference to the sustainable lifeto the possibilities of specifically preventing the often reflexive self-deception. Let's go!

What is the ostrich tactic?

Under the Ostrich tactics (also as Ostrich Effect or Ostrich policy known) is understood to be the attempt to solve problems by ignoring them and, as it were, ignoring the Head in the sand is hidden. It is therefore a psychological phenomenon of hiding a (usually uncomfortable) truth or a challenging, looming danger from ourselves.

Tip: A similar phenomenon from psychology is the cognitive dissonance. A state of feeling that is perceived as unpleasant and is a consequence of an inner conflict. You can read more about this in the linked article.

What does "sticking your head in the sand" have to do with sustainability?


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Within a few months, our society could discard the behaviors that have been crucial to the Environmental problems of our time contribute. We could theoretically stop jetting around the world right now, generate electricity exclusively from renewable energy sources, ban single-use plastic products, and stop eating and wearing animal body parts. All of this would have a massive positive impact on the protection of our planet - and not least our health.

"The purest form of insanity is to leave everything as it is and hope that something will change."

 Albert Einstein

Yet we prefer to continue destroying the only planet we have because these changes seem too blatant and unfeasible and we don't want to be constrained. We bury our heads in the sand and ignore the problems and the fact that our everyday behavior has something to do with the fact that they exist in the first place.

We not only ignore them, we even try to find counter-arguments to justify this destructive action. "The pictures from the slaughterhouse are not from here - with us, the humanely slaughtered", "The one straw doesn't make a difference after all", "Rainforests are cut down for soy? Only vegans eat that!" or "you've flown before, haven't you?" are such typical reactions to the quite obviously reasonable suggestion to live a little more sustainably and not at the expense of others.

The restrained climate policy of our government can therefore be confidently described as ostrich policy and the resigning or denying behavior of individual people with regard to a more sustainable lifestyle as ostrich tactics. But we know that postponed problems become bigger and bigger in the course of time...

What to do to prevent the ostrich tactic?

Prevent ostrich tactics - head high

Ignoring does not make the problem go away - on the contrary, it becomes greater. If you actually wanted to avoid unpleasant stress, it will come back to you in the future in a more massive form. If you discover the ostrich tactic in yourself or other people, the following things can help:

  • Inform: Before you form too firm an opinion or stick rigidly to your shaky opinion, first find out more about the topic in question. New insights could change your opinion without having to bury your head in the sand.
  • Be brave: Lack of courage is one of the reasons we hide from problems. Learn to become more self-confident and to aim for the best case rather than the worst case when faced with challenges.
  • See advantages: Having to change yourself or your attitude is something we usually consider a stressful disadvantage. But possible changes bring extremely many advantages that you should focus on.
  • Be insightful: Our pride is another reason for the ostrich tactic. Therefore, learn to be insightful and overcome your pride when it is appropriate.
  • Be open: Be open to change or new insights instead of closing yourself off or clinging to viewpoints that are no longer logical.

The motto is: don't bury your head in the sand to close your eyes, but rather approach the problem with head held high and eyes open at. Think of it as a challenge that needs to be mastered successfully. And not as a problem that you want to cowardly avoid.

Tip: Find out here, for example, why i live veganif you have always reflexively waved off the word "vegan".

Ostrich tactics? You profit if you specifically avoid them

No matter what truth you try not to let get to you, if you allow it, accept it, and adjust your attitudes and behaviors, you can only benefit from it. Whether it's through a career leap, a happier relationship, a healthier way of eating, or a fundamentally more sustainable lifestyle.

I hope you were able to take away something about the ostrich tactic from this post. Do you have any questions, suggestions or your own experiences with this psychological phenomenon? Then feel free to write me a comment.

Keep an open mind,

Christoph from CareElite - Plastic-free living

PS: Showing insight instead of falling for the ostrich tactic means learning something. This serves your personal development and the improvement of your quality of life. In another article I would like to show you the Present books that changed my life significantly have. Have fun!

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* Links with asterisks are so-called Affiliate links. If you click on it and buy something, you automatically and actively support my work with, because I get a small share of the sales revenue - and of course the product price does not change. Thank you for your support and best regards, Christoph!


Christoph Schulz

I'm Christoph, an environmental scientist and author - and here at CareElite I'm campaigning against plastic waste in the environment, climate change and all the other major environmental problems of our time. Together with other environmentally conscious bloggers, I want to give you tips & tricks for a naturally healthy, sustainable life as well as your personal development.

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