Mains Marathon

Answered: Mains Marathon – UPSC Mains Current Affairs Questions – March 31

Following are the Suggested Answers for Mains Marathon, March 31:

1. What do you understand by Cognitive Dissonance? Suggest ways to reduce the same. Also, mention some applications of the Cognitive Dissonance theory. (GS 4)

संज्ञानात्मक विसर्जन से आप क्या समझते हैं? इसको कम करने के तरीके सुझाएं। इसके अलावा, संज्ञानात्मक विघटन सिद्धांत के कुछ अनुप्रयोगों का उल्लेख करें।

Cognitive dissonance:-

  • This is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time.
  • If one believes that he/ she is good but do something bad, then the discomfort that person feels as a result is cognitive dissonance.
  • This produces a feeling of discomfort leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance etc.
  • Dissonance increases with:
    • The importance of the subject to us.
    • How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
    • People’s inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.

How to reduce it:

1. Change their behavior:

·         Individuals can change one or more of the attitudes, behavior, beliefs etc. so as to make the relationship between the two elements a consonant one. When one of the dissonant elements is a behavior, the individual can change or eliminate the behavior.

2. Justify their behavior by changing the conflicting cognition:

·         To acquire new information that outweighs the dissonant beliefs.

·         For example, thinking smoking causes lung cancer will cause dissonance if a person smokes. However, new information such as “research has not proved definitely that smoking causes lung cancer” may reduce the dissonance.

3. Justify our behavior by adding new cognitions:

·         To reduce the importance of the cognitions (i.e. beliefs, attitudes).Persons can convince themselves that it is better to “live for today” than to “save for tomorrow.” In other words, he could tell himself that a short life filled with smoking and sensual pleasures is better than a long life devoid of such joys. In this way, he would be decreasing the importance of the dissonant cognition.

4. Ignore or deny information that conflicts with existing beliefs

Applications of cognitive dissonance theory are:-

  • Education:
    • Teachers and education experts can use cognitive dissonance as a tool for increased motivation in learning. For instance, if a student is stuck on an incorrect belief about something, his teacher can use the dissonance to motivate him into finding out the real and correct fact in order to deal with the psychological discomfort that he is feeling. Thus the dissonance can actually be a source of motivation to study
    • It can reduce cheating in exams. If students believe that it is wrong to cheat in an exam but they cheat anyway, they will experience high levels of tension and discomfort.
  • It can be used by smokers to quit smoking. Smokers find all kind of reasons to explain away their unhealthy habit. The alternative is to find a great deal of dissonance.
  • In administration ethical dilemmas and cognitive dissonance theory can be seen in the civil servants when they have to compassionate towards people but if the law is against it dissonance occurs.

Cognitive dissonance theory seeks to bring balance between beliefs and action which would lead to more efficiency avoiding unethical decision making.

2. “The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human beings.” Discuss. (GS 4)

“नैतिकता के विकास में पहला कदम अन्य मनुष्यों के साथ एकता की भावना है।” चर्चा करें।

  • Ethics affects how people make their decisions and lead their lives.
  • Ethics is concerned with other people’s interests, with the interests of society.So when a person ‘thinks ethically’ they are giving at least some thought to something beyond themselves and thinking about others which brings the concept of solidarity.
  • Solidarity, in the social sense, can be described as a kind of voluntary union or fellowship amongst people based on a community of feelings, purposes, responsibilities and/or interests, whereby in the spirit of cooperation, people are concerned about those who are less fortunate or vulnerable and strive for equity and justice for all.
  • Solidarity is the first step in ethics because:
    • Presence of sense of solidarity is needed to form a societal group which is a basic requirement for ethics to exist.
    • Formation of ethical values: The formation of value system of the society is due to the contribution by acting members.
    • Enforcing ethical conduct: A person would not dare to violate the ethical values for the fear of being expelled from the society, This fear arises due to the fact that human feels a sense of bond with others.
  • Solidarity in human beings leads to their sensitization towards others. Such changes makes them more and more accountable and responsible of their actions.
  • Ethics in a society evolves when it benefits all.Just because a society considers something as correct does mean it’s right.So solidarity need not always provide the evolution of ethics it can sometimes be counterproductive like the recent attack on the padmavati set etc.

3. Morality is a test of our conformity rather than our integrity. Do you agree? (GS 4)

नैतिकता हमारी अखंडता के बजाय हमारी अनुरूपता का एक परीक्षण है। क्या आप सहमत हैं?

Yes it is test of conformity than integrity:-

  • Sometimes integrity is neglected as in a particular society there might be certain rules which are against a person’s integrity and yet he/she follows it.
  • Like the laws against cow slaughter in most parts of the country a civil servant conforms to it whether or not his integral voice does not accept so..

No it is not test of conformity but integrity:-

  • Without integrity,conforming to morals cannot be always precise.Morals are different for different people so if the person believes that corruption is of no issue he/she is conforming to it but there is no integrity.
  • Morality is more a test of our unwaivering resolve to stick to the rules both in letter and spirit. An individual believing in wholesome application of all the relevant personal values would only be called a moral individual.

It is test of both:-

  • Morality needs to have conformity with the set of standards that people have set for themselves in an uncorruptable manner even in the difficult circumstance.
  • For example- In a examination students may not know the answer to a question but as cheating is immoral  they conform to that moral.They also have integrity as there may be many temptation  to cheat.If one of the two constituents is missing than the morality can’t be practiced.

So for a balanced view both conformity and integrity are equally important for a person to be  moral.


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