The ostrich syndrome

The research uncovers the wide range of physical, emotional, personal and professional problems that people experience as a direct result of their refusal to face up to financial concerns.

More and more people are burying their heads in the sand and fail to carry out even the most straightforward elements of financial planning. 26% of adults admit to experiencing problems due to money worries, ranging from sleeping difficulties and panic attacks, to relationships breaking down or even turning to alcohol.

Despite this worrying evidence, the majority of people are still ignoring their financial situation, preferring instead to ‘bury their head in the sand’. Having analysed the research, the findings of which have been supported by behavioural psychologist, Donna Dawson, Prudential has identified this phenomenon and named it, the ‘Ostrich Syndrome.’

Supporting the findings of the research, Donna Dawson commented, “This is a classic manifestation of the Ostrich Syndrome. It affects men and women of all ages and classes. They are able to ignore what’s going on around them convincing themselves that eventually everything will be okay. People have so many issues to confront regarding relationships, work, and the sheer complexity and stress of modern life that the future is too difficult to think about, so they don’t.”

Despite suffering these very real effects, many people seem to be failing to address the cause of them, the research shows for example: 81 per cent of people claim that they are ‘very good’ or ‘fairly good’ at planning their personal finances and yet in the last twelve months only 24 per cent have reviewed their mortgage, 18 per cent have reviewed their loans and just 30 per cent their credit cards.

Despite all the media coverage about shortfalls in retirement pensions only 30 per cent of people have looked at whether they have sufficient money in their fund

Nearly 50 per cent of people tend not to think about the ups and downs being experienced by the stock market saying it has no bearing on whether they review their financial situation

Roger Ramsden, Director of Marketing at Prudential, said: “These results make very concerning reading and show that the majority of people in the UK who suffer from financial anxiety, continue to do nothing about it. Key triggers such as changes to interest rates, the way child tax benefits are paid, and the recent increase to NI contributions have implications for all of us – yet most people are happy to accept the repercussions on their finances without further action. In fact, despite changes to interest rates only 24 per cent of the population have reviewed their mortgage in the last 12 months.”