Cognitive Dissonance

Mains Marks Booster     3rd August 2023        


  • Attitude: content, structure, function; its influence and relation with thought and behaviour


  • Uniform Civil Code: Whether to support or not
  • Economic assistance to Pakistan by the international  organsiation
  • People of Russia – Whether to support their country or lean towards humanism
  • Covid-19 treatment and medical Experts

About:  Cognitive Dissonance

(Behaviour is in contradiction to your belief system)

  • It is Mental conflict or discomfort which occurs when a person holds conflicting beliefs or when actions contradict their beliefs.
  • Cognitive dissonance is a sense of internal anxiety that is experienced when a person holds two inconsistent cognitions.


  • People believe that drinking and smoking are injurious to health. Still, they drink and smoke. 
  • Russian People have been facing Cognitive Dissonance whether to support their country in these testing times or lean towards humanism for understanding the plight of the Ukrainian people.
  • Eating meat while also thinking of themselves as an animal lover who dislikes the thought of killing animals.
  • Purchasing a new car that is not fuel efficient, despite being environmentally conscious
  • Telling a lie despite the person thinking of themselves as honest.

          Cognitive Dissonance


  • Forced Compliance behaviour: (Acting against ones beliefs) -Sometimes one might find yourself engaging in behaviours that are opposed to your own beliefs due to external expectations. This might involve going along with something due to peer pressure, prior commitments or as one’s duty
  • Making Decision: When faced with choices which involve conflicting beliefs, people often are left with feelings of dissonance. 
  • Gaining new Information: (Contradicting to new information) Sometimes learning new information can lead to feelings of cognitive dissonance. For example, if you engage in a behaviour that you later learn is harmful, it can lead to feelings of discomfort. 
  • Change the Conflicting Action or behaviour
  • Reduce the Significance of the Conflicting belief
  • Effort: Putting a great effort in achieving something, later realise that the accomplishment was not really that special, then it can cause serious cognitive dissonance

Sign of Cognitive Dissonance

  • Feeling uncomfortable before doing something or making a decision. 
  • Trying to justify or rationalise a decision that you've made or an action you have taken
  •  Feeling embarrassed or ashamed about something you've done and trying to hide your actions from other people.
  • Experiencing guilt or regret about something you've done in the past.
  • Sense of internal anxiety that is experienced when a person holds two inconsistent cognitions.
      Sign of Cognitive Dissonance

Coping With Cognitive Dissonance: 

  • Changing Attitude: Modify some of your beliefs, principles, personal values, attitudes and behaviour to bring consistency among them.
  • Be open to new Information: Seek and be more accepting towards new information that can offset or counterbalance your contradictory beliefs.
  • Question the value of Conflicting Cognitions: Analyze and lower the value you assign to your cognitions – thoughts, beliefs, attitudes and principles.

Way forwards to overcome the Cognitive Dissonance of the situation

  • Coordination: Address the lack of coordination between the National Task Force on COVID-19 and Central Drug Standard Control Organisation (CDSCO). 
  • Transparency: The drug’s approval should be more transparent, i.e., open and accessible for all to avoid misuse of power and make citizens more aware. 
  • Objectivity: CDSCO should have more objectivity in drug’s approval to avoid hasty approval and ensure that the efficacy of the drug is periodically monitored. 
  • Awareness: The medical professionals and citizens should be made aware of pros and cons of drugs to remove moral distress and ensure informed consent.

Cognitive Dissonance among Russian People over War

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has spotlighted the ambivalent attitude of many Russian people whether to support their country in these testing times or lean towards humanism for understanding the plight of the Ukrainian people. 

This has been due to Cognitive dissonance faced by people because of issues such as:

  • Disinformation: It has become a primary vehicle of the war waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, leveraging entrenched narratives to convince Russians how its military forces carry out a “special military operation” to liberate the people in Ukraine.
  • State censorship and biased pollsters: Censorship over liberal voices and making a narrative in the favour of Russia by the state run media, has been causing to frame biased opinions. Brainwashing through media censorship, state propaganda, and disinformation are leading cognitive dissonance among the people. 
  • Geopolitical tensions: Cold war among world powers fumes feelings of chauvinism among common people. As a result, people start thinking of their own country as a super aggressor and zero tolerance towards others.
  • Use of lethal weapons causing death of innocent people in Ukraine. Mass killing and destruction of infrastructures bringing thought of empathy towards humanism for understanding the plight of the Ukrainian people

Way Forward:

  • International Cooperation to establish peace Ex. Recently, Israel and UAE  Normalization Agreement.
  • Compassionate view towards vulnerable sections Ex. UN Peace army to establish peace in African Countries
  • Mutual Agreement for long lasting peace 
  • End of arm race Ex. New Start Treaty between Russia and USA
  • Mutual respect for respective sovereignty
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