To take or not take the Vaccine? Cognitive dissonance at play

Do you feel stressed when taking some decisions? Do you feel you rather run away from the responsibility of taking the decision or rather delegate the decision making responsibility?

One reason that you may feel this way could be due to cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance occurs when you feel discomfort when two beliefs contradict each other or your actions contradict your beliefs. From a young age, we have been schooled on certain beliefs and have been taught to be consistent with them. So when we come across inconsistencies or unknowingly hold two contradictory beliefs or are forced to take actions which oppose our beliefs, we feel anguished

One easy example is you being an animal lover and yet you eat meat. No, not in the funny way

“I love animals; so I eat them”

But in a true sense you love them, yet you also consume meat

So on one side you identify yourself as a “for animals” person and on the other side you portray a contradictory behaviour by eating meat, although you are cognisant on how they are reared in poor conditions & killed

Many may not even realise these contradictions at a conscious level because we have stopped thinking deeply and have lost the ability to remain still. We are either busy working or watching Netflix or swiping through Instagram Reels / TikTok

A more recent example is the Covid-19 vaccination drive. If you are a rational thinker (if at all we are!); the million dollar question is, do you take the vaccine or do you not?

Many would not think twice and would follow the herd; then there would be the nay sayers & conspiracy theorists, who would poke holes on everything and justify why you shouldn’t take the vaccine

In between these two groups, are another set of people, who know that “in a normal world” the pharmaceutical companies would have had to run the test for years together on animals, observed long term implications, then run clinical trials and only post that would it be certified for the larger population. In fact we have evidence of approved drugs that have gone through these rigorous processes and yet have been recalled after decades of use!

One example is Accutane which was in the market for 27 years from 1982 to 2009 and had to be recalled due to increased risks of birth defects, then there’s Cylert which was in the market from 1975 to 2010 and was recalled because of liver toxicity. Here’s a list of 35 FDA approved prescription drugs that were recalled

So what does the person who has done this research do? On one side, there is data that even FDA approved drugs have had to be recalled after decades of use; on the other side, you have the social pressure of conforming to the society and on the third side, your action or in action may not just affect you but also your family

So what is your belief and would your action be in line with your belief? If there is a mismatch between the two, then this is a classical example of cognitive dissonance

People cope with cognitive dissonance by rejecting the new information which does not align with their past beliefs or they would look out to their peers or they would justify their actions, even though it is contradictory to their beliefs. A common example of the latter is where, a smoker who is also health conscious tricks themselves by saying that he/she needs to smoke in order to be part of the social circle

The goal here should be to understand oneself and harmonise your beliefs & actions

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