The Psychology paper consists of two papers, paper 1 and paper 2. The subject carries a total of 500 marks, with each paper allotted for 250 marks. In this article, we are proving the latest UPSC Psychology Syllabus for IAS Mains 2020. Download the complete syllabus PDF.
Aspirants planning to take UPSC Exam 2020 may refer to the linked article.
UPSC IAS Psychology Syllabus Paper – I
Foundations of Psychology
Definition of Psychology; Historical antecedents of Psychology and trends in the 21st century; Psychology and scientific methods; Psychology in relation to other social sciences and natural sciences; Application of Psychology to societal problems.
2. Methods of Psychology:
Types of research: Descriptive, evaluative, diagnostic and prognostic; Methods of Research: Survey, observation, case-study and experiments; Characteristics of experimental design and non-experimental design, Quasi-experimental designs; Focussed group discussions, brain storming, grounded theory approach.
3. Research Methods:
Major steps in Psychological research (problem statement, hypothesis formulation, research designs, sampling, tools of data collection, analysis and interpretation and report writing) Fundamental versus applied research; Methods of data collect ion ( interview, observat ion, quest ionnaire); Research designs (ex-post facto and experimental); Application of statistical technique (t – test, two way ANOVA correlation, regression and factor analysis); Item response theory.
4. Development of Human Behaviour:
Growth and development; Principles of development, Role of genetic and environmental factors in determining human behaviour; Influence of cultural factors in socialization; Life span development – Characteristics, development tasks, promoting psychological well-being across major stages of the life span.
5. Sensation, Attention and Perception:
Sensation: concepts of threshold, absolute and difference thresholds, signal-detection and vigilance; Factors influencing attention including set and characteristics of stimulus; Definition and concept of perception, biological factors in perception; Perceptual organization-influence of past experiences, perceptual defence-factors influencing space and depth perception, size estimation and perceptual readiness; The plasticity of perception; Extrasensory perception; Culture and perception, Subliminal perception.
Concept and theories of learning (Behaviourists, Gestaltalist and Information processing models); The Processes of extinction, discrimination and generalization; Programmed learning, probability learning, self-instructional learning, concepts; Types and the schedules of reinforcement, escape, avoidance and punishment, modeling and social learning.
Encoding and remembering; Short term memory, Long term memory, Sensory memory, Iconic memory, Echoic memory: The Multistore model, levels of processing; Organization and Mnemonic techniques to improve memory; Theories of forgetting: decay, interference and retrieval failure: Metamemory; Amnesia: Anterograde and retrograde.
8. Thinking and Problem Solving:
Piaget’s theory of cognitive development; Concept formation processes; Information processing, Reasoning and problem solving, Facilitating and hindering factors in problem solving, Methods of problem solving: Creative thinking and fostering creativity; Factors influencing decision making and judgment; Recent trends.
9. Motivation and Emotion:
Psychological and physiological basis of motivation and emotion; Measurement of motivation and emotion; Effects of motivation and emotion on behaviour; Extrinsic and intrinsic motivation; Factors influencing intrinsic motivation; Emotional competence and the related issues.
10. Intelligence and Aptitude:
Concept of intelligence and aptitude, Nature and theories of intelligence – Spearman, Thurstone, Gullford Vernon, Sternberg and J.P; Das; Emotional Intelligence, Social intelligence, measurement of intelligence and aptitudes, concept of IQ, deviation IQ, constancy of IQ; Measurement of multiple intelligence; Fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.
Definition and concept of personality; Theories of personality (psychoanalytical, sociocultural, interpersonal, developmental, humanistic, behaviouristic, trait and type approaches); Measurement of personality (projective tests, pencil-paper test); The Indian approach to personality; Training for personality development; Latest approaches like big 5 factor theory; The notion of self in different traditions.
12. Attitudes, Values and Interests:
Definition of attitudes, values and interests; Components of attitudes; Formation and maintenance of attitudes; Measurement of attitudes, values and interests; Theories of attitude change; Strategies for fostering values; Formation of stereotypes and prejudices; Changing others behaviour; Theories of attribution; Recent trends.
13. Language and Communication:
Human language – Properties, structure and linguistic hierarchy, Language acquisition-predisposition, critical period hypothesis; Theories of language development – Skinner and Chomsky; Process and types of communication – effective communication training.
14. Issues and Perspectives in Modern Contemporary Psychology:
Computer application in the psychological laboratory and psychological testing; Artificial intelligence ; Psychocybernetics; Study of consciousness – sleep – wake schedules; dreams, stimulus deprivation, meditation, hypnotic/drug induced states; Extrasensory perception; Intersensory perception Simulation studies.
UPSC IAS Psychology Syllabus Paper – II
Psychology: Issues and Applications
1. Psychological Measurement of Individual Differences:
The nature of individual differences; Characteristics and construction of standardized psychological tests; Types of psychological tests; Use, misuse and limitation of psychological tests; hical issues in the use of psychological tests.
2. Psychological well being and Mental Disorders:
Concept of health-ill health; Positive health, well being; Causal factors in mental disorders (Anxiety disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia and delusional disorders; personality disorders, substance abuse disorders); Factors influencing positive health, well being, life style and quality of life; Happiness disposition.
3. Therapeutic Approaches:
Psychodynamic therapies ; Behaviour therapies; Client centered therapy; Cognitive therapies; Indigenous therapies (Yoga, Meditation); Bio-feedback therapy; Prevention and rehabilitation of the mentally ill; Fostering mental health.
4. Work Psychology and Organisational Behaviour:
Personnel selection and training; Use of psychological tests in the industry; Training and human resource development; Theories of work motivation – Herzberg, Maslow, Adam Equity theory, Porter and Lawler, Vroom; Leadership and participatory management; Advertising and marketing; Stress and its management; Ergonomics; consumer psychology; Managerial effectiveness; Transformational leadership; Sensitivity training; Power and politics in organizations.
5. Application of Psychology to Educational Field:
Psychological principles underlying effective teaching-learning process; Learning styles; Gifted, retarded, learning disabled and their training; Training for improving memory and better academic achievement; Personality development and value education, Educational, vocational guidance and career counseling; Use of psychological tests in educational institutions; Effective strategies in guidance programmes.
6. Community Psychology:
Definition and concept of community psychology; Use of small groups in social action; Arousing community consciousness and action for handling social problems; Group decision making and leadership for social change; Effective strategies for social change.
7. Rehabilitation Psychology:
Primary, secondary and tertiary prevention programmes – role of psychologists ; Organising of services for rehabilitation of physical ly, mental ly and social ly chal – lenged persons including old persons, Rehabilitation of persons suffering from substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, criminal behaviour; Rehabilitation of victims of violence, Rehabilitation of HIV/AIDS victims, the role of social agencies.
8. Application of Psychology to disadvantaged groups:
The concepts of disadvantaged, deprivation; Social, physical, cultural and economic consequences of disadvantaged and deprived groups; Educating and motivating the disadvantaged towards development; Relative and prolonged deprivation.
9. Psychological problems of social integration:
The concept of social integration; The problem of caste, class, religion and language conflicts and prejudice; Nature and manifestation of prejudice between the in-group and out-group; Causal factors of social conflicts and prejudices; Psychological strategies for handling the conflicts and prejudices; Measures to achieve social integration.
10. Application of Psychology in Information Technology and Mass Media:
The present scenario of information technology and the mass media boom and the role of psychologists; Selection and training of psychology professionals to work in the field of IT and mass media; Distance learning through IT and mass media; Entrepreneurship through e-commerce; Multilevel marketing; Impact of TV and fostering value through IT and mass media; Psychological consequences of recent developments in Information Technology.
11. Psychology and Economic development:
Achievement motivation and economic development; Characteristics of entrepreneurial behaviour; Motivating and training people for entrepreneurship and economic development; Consumer rights and consumer awareness, Government policies for promotion of entrepreneurship among youth including women entrepreneurs.
12. Application of psychology to environment and related fields:
Environmental psychology-effects of noise, pollution and crowding; Population psychology: psychological consequences of population explosion and high population density; Motivating for small family norm; Impact of rapid scientific and technological growth on degradation of environment.
13. Application of psychology in other fields:
a. Military Psychology Devising psychological tests for defence personnel for use in selection, Training, counseling; training psychologists to work with defence personnel in promoting positive health; Human engineering in defence.
b. Sports Psychology Psychological interventions in improving performance of athletes and sports. Persons participating in Individual and Team Games.
c. Media influences on pro and antisocial behaviour.
d. Psychology of terrorism.
14. Psychology of Gender:
Issues of discrimination, Management of diversity; Glass ceiling effect, Self fulfilling prophesy, Women and Indian society.
Also, Check Other UPSC IAS Optional Subject’s Syllabus
How to Prepare UPSC Mains Psychology Optional Subject
First of all, every subject needs its own set of strategies and unique method of preparation. When it comes to psychology, it is all about a detailed understanding of the concepts and then analyzing the application part of it. There are just too many books available which will help you with various topics that are typically the must-study concepts under psychology. Choosing the right book for every topic in itself is a big task to do.
Clarity and a crystal clear understanding of every concept you study forms the basic part of your preparation. A good reference book that may not be for the prescribed syllabus but for your better understanding of the concepts and ready reckoner for revision includes Applied Psychology by Smarak Swain.
Although many aspirants feel the need to attend coaching for psychology, it’s not really necessary. Lot of online material and notes to guide you through the tougher sections is accessible to everyone. You can also refer to online videos that actually teach a topic in detail and tell you exactly what to prepare for the psychology paper.
The problem again with psychology is the requirement for you to know till what depth you need to cover a topic for the exam. Well, it may sound easy for you to learn a topic, go in depth with its many aspects but you should be aware where to draw the line. For this sake, you have to refer to certain videos that will aid you in better understanding this limit.
After seeing, analyzing, visualising and comprehending with the conceptual part, now comes the tough part. The application part, may seem easy at first glance but is the most trickiest section and you have to really gear up yourself if you want to outscore in the examination.
Having said that, you need to first get an idea how questions are asked in the application part. They aren’t direct hit questions for sure. You must be in a position to relate the topic and its sense of application which only comes through a lot of rigorous practice and more practice, thus leading to precision.
Also, the lack of sources that tells you about his section or talks in detail about the way the application part is interrelated with the theoretical part is very few. Thus you may need out-of-context help, meaning you may need to spend a lot of time digging into journals, psychology related books, newspaper and magazine content etc.
Lets first take how you can supplement your studies by journal reading. Prepare a wholesome list that you need to prepare from.
A list of journals, the name of the book and the author should suffice. Also, since almost every journal doesn’t have access permission, you can stick to the abstract and the conclusion, which in itself gives you a whole deal of information to start with.
That in itself consumes a hell lot of your preparation time and you may really start wondering if this part really is a necessary part of your preparation. Without looking back, start researching for the most famous or much-needed journals on psychology and start putting down information. Prepare notes, write all key points in a note book without fail.
A very popular magazine on psychology called ‘Psychology Today’ is an American magazine that contains very good data on the subject, reveals latest trends in the field and everything you need to know about the subject when answering a competitive paper like this.
If you’re a tech geek, then you may be a person who often refers to science and technology. Even if you aren’t a tech geek, if you’ve opted for this paper, then undoubtedly it becomes necessary that you keep yourself updated with latest happenings in the field. For the application part of your paper, this is really essential.
There are many interrelated parts from other subjects that also play a role when you’re dealing with psychology. Social development, education, childcare, military operations, etc are some of the primary areas where you’ll find the favourite questions of psychological applications being asked from. Its common perhaps that you’ll be able to write better answers if you start answering old question papers and try to get them analyzed by a peer who’s an expert in the field.
A favourite and tricky part of the examination is about asking a question that looks common in nature but depending on how you relate the concepts of psychology and put merits of the subject, you’ll be rated. This is a very trending part of the examination these days and students should take care when answering such unexpected parts.
For example, if the question is about illiteracy, we tend to commonly think about high tuition fees, unaffordable schools, etc. That’s the common route all of us know and deal with. Here, we have to wear the hat of a psychologist and think from his perspective too. So, seeking inputs from a psychologist mind, we have to write answers in the suitable manner.
Psychology as a subject also aids in other parts of exam such as essay papers and general studies papers. Some of the most critical portions like violence, social evils, behavior, personality, crimes against women etc have scope outside the periphery of psychology too.
IF you happened to refer to trends over the years in results obtained, they indicate low scores. Not to worry, the point here is to bring out those data that seem relevant to the subject matter and not presenting them in a generalised fashion.
UPSC Psychology Books
- Introduction to Psychology by Robert Baron
- Psychology by Ciccarelli
- Statistics for Psychology by Aron, Aron, Coups
- Cognitive Psychology by Sternberg
- Social Psychology by Robert Baron, Branscombe, Gopa Bhardwaj, Byrne.
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