Psychology Optional

Psychology Optional



 Foundations of Psychology

1. Introduction : Definition of Psychology; Historical antecedents of Psychology and trends in the 21st centrury; 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 designs; quasi-experimental designs; Focussed group discussions, brain storming, grounded theory approach.

3. Research methods : Major steps in psychological research (problem statement, hypothesis formulation, research design, sampling, tools of data collection, analysis and interpretation and report writing); Fundamental versus applied research; Methods of data collection (interview, observation, questionnaire and case study). Research Designs (Ex-post facto and experimental). Application of statistical techniques (t-test, two-way ANOVA, correlation and 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-factor influencing space and depth perception, size estimation and perceptual readiness; The plasticity of perception; Extrasensory perception; Culture and perception, Subliminal perception.

6. Learning : Concepts and theories of learning (Behaviourists, Gestaltalist and Information processing models). The processes of extinction, discrimination and generalisation. Programmed learning, probability learning, self instructional learning, concepts, types and the schedules of reinforcement, escape, avoidance and punishment, modelling and social learning.

7. Memory : Encoding and remembering; Shot-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 judgement; 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, Gulford Vernon, Sternberg and J.P. Das; Emotional Intelligence, Social intelligence, measurement of intelligence and aptitudes, concept of I Q deviation I Q, constancy of I Q; Measurement of multiple intelligence; Fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.

11. Personality : Definition and concept of personality; Theories of personality (psychoanalytical, socio-cultural, 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 : Definitions of attitudes, values and interests; Components of attitudes; Formation and maintenance of attitudes. Measurement of attitudes, values and interests. Theories of attitude changes, strategies for fostering values. Formation of stereotypes and prejudices; Changing other’s behaviour, Theories of attribution; Recent trends.

13. Language and Communication : Human language— Properties, structure and linguistic hierarchy, Language acquisition—predispotion, critical period hypothesis; Theories of Language development—Skinner and Chomsky; Process and types of communication—effective commu-nication training.

14. Issues and Perspectives in Modern Contemporary Psychology : Computer application in the psychological laboratory and psychological testing; Artificial intelligence; Psychocybernetics; Study of consciousnessleep-wak schedules; dreams, stimulus deprivation, meditation, hypnotic/ drug induced states; Extrasensory perception; Intersensory perception; Simulation studies.


 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. Ethical issues in the use of psychological tests.

2. Psychological well being and Mental Disorders : Concept of health-ill health positive health, well being casual factores in Mental disorders (Anxiety disorders, mood disorders; schizophrenia and delusional disorders; personality disorders, substance abuse disorders). Factors influencing positive health, well being; lifestyle and quality of life; Happiness disposition

3. Therapeutic Approaches : Psychodynamic therapies. Behaviour therapies. Client centered therapy. Cognitive therapies. Indigenous therapies (Yoga, Meditation). Biofeedback 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 leadersip; Senitivity 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 counselling. 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 physically, mentally and socially challenged persons including old persons. Rehabilitation of persons suffering from substance abuse, juvenile delinquency, criminal behaviours. 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 problem 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 ingroup and outgroup. Casual factors of such 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 entreprenures.

12. Application of Psychology to environment and related fields : Environmental Psychology effects of noise, pollution and crowding. Population Psychology : Psychological consequence of population explosion and high population density. Motivating for small family norms. Impact of rapid scientific and technological growth on degradation of environment.

13. Application of psychology in other fields : (a) Military Psychology Devising psycological 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 anti-social 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.

How to prepare for psychology optional for IAS?

Psychology optional subject is offered as one of the subjects for the UPSC civil service main exam. Psychology can be defined as a scientific study of the human mind and its functioning and the way how it is affected. Psychology is a life science subject. It plays a vital role in everyday life and is a relatable subject. This makes the answering of the questions much easier. To make your preparation more flexible, here are few tips which can be used by you while preparing.

1. Start your preparation by reading the NCERT books. The concepts given in these books will lay the foundation for further concepts. They will help you to understand the concepts in a better way because the language of the text is very simple and easy. All concepts are so well explained that you don’t need to rely on any other books. Also if you are learning and studying psychology for the first time then NCERT books are the best choice for beginners. In addition to this NCERT books are the most reliable source and can be used for any relevant information. Clear all your basics through it.

2. There are a lot of experimental studies involved in psychology optional. So while writing answers try to include all these studies with the names. These experimental studies play a significant role in the field of psychology. Also, try to include them during the time of your preparation. Psychology is not an exact science when it comes to its basic nature. It more of a natural science and not just any other science subject like physics or chemistry or botany. There are many research-proven facts involved in it. So a piece of advice is to be extra careful while preparing this subject.

3. When you are writing the answers to the questions make sure you include real-life examples. These examples should be by your surroundings because psychology all about life and behavior in different settings. Such examples will definitely boost your score. Try to include instances from all walks of life. And if possible narrow down these examples to India because at the end of the day you want to be an Indian civil servant. Also, try to correlate the answers with real-life and focus your answers with them. In this way, you are giving the practical application of the psychology subject.

4. Try to use flowcharts while answering the questions. Flowcharts help to give a better explanation of the answer. They save time which can be utilized by investing this time in some other answers. Also, it gives an impression to the examiner that you have basic understanding and clarity about the answer. This boosts your score and helps to fetch good marks.  Also, flowcharts make the concepts clearer. Through flowcharts, learning becomes a fun and easy-going. It is because you don’t need to read through long text for answers. A simple flowchart is enough to get knowledge.

5. There are enough reference books available in the market. But be cautious while referring to these books. Try to stick to limited books that cover the entire syllabus. Don’t try to refer to ten different books since this might confuse you. So limit yourself and focus only on a few books because of quality matters over quantity.

6. Also, prepare notes. These notes help in the revision of the entire syllabus during the time of the exam. They boost a candidate’s score in the main exam since he/she need not rush behind multiple reference books. Instead of this, they can simply refer to their study notes which were made during the time of preparation. Also, notes play a major role during preparation. At the last moment of the preparation, notes are something on which you can rely upon. So from the beginning of your preparation start preparing notes which will ultimately help you in the long run.

7. One of the most crucial aspects of UPSC preparation is to solve past year papers of the optional subject.  This will help to score better marks. Also, past year papers give a glance at what are possible questions that might come up this year. This makes your preparation more smooth and easy-going. You can analyze your strengths and weaknesses by solving these papers. After doing this start preparing the topics at which you are not so good. Try to manage the other portion of syllabus at which you are good enough. In this way you will be able to complete entire syllabus in a more systematic manner. Other than that past year questions and their answers are the most reliable source for preparation. They act as a tool to help candidates.

8. It is very important to thoroughly study the whole syllabus of psychology optional twice and thrice. And then keep on revising it as many times as possible. Revision helps to absorb the things in a better way. It helps to keep the whole of the syllabus in our brain for a longer duration. If a student keeps on learning and doesn’t revise what he has studied then he tends to forget the thing on the day of the exam. This is because what he/studies didn’t ever get registered in his brain. Thus revision is the key factor to restore things in the brain. Without revision it will be tough to cope up with the preparation.

9. Most of the students are unable to manage the time during the exam. This happens because many times a candidate spends a lot of time thinking about an answer to particular questions and this leads to a lot of wastage of time. Instead of this one needs to specify and allocate proper time to each and every question. It will help to finish the paper on time. Also, time management is important to avoid any last-minute hassle. When less time is left and there are more questions left to be answered then many times a candidate marks a wrong answer even if he/she knows the correct answer.