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Syllabus of Psychology Paper - I

Foundations of Psychology

  1. Introduction: 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 designs; quasi-experimental designs; Focused 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 defense-factor influencing space and depth perception, size estimation and perceptual readiness; The plasticity of perception; Extrasensory perception; Culture and perception, Subliminal erception.
  6. Learning: Concepts 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, 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 IQ deviation IQ, 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 communication training.
  14. Issues and Perspectives in Modern Contemporary Psychology: Computer application in the psychological laboratory and psychological testing; Artificial intelligence; Psych cybernetics; Study of consciousnessleep-wak schedules; dreams, stimulus deprivation, meditation, hypnotic/drug induced states; Extrasensory perception; Intersensory perception; Simulation studies.

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Syllabus of Psychology 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. 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 entrepreneurs.
  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.

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Previous Year UPSC Questions

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  1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each:
    A. How is the descriptive type of research different from diagnostic research? Answer the question giving suitable examples of each.
    B. "Mental health study is the major trend in Psychological studies in the 21st century." Discuss.
    C. What do you mean by subliminal perception? Discuss its role in advertising with the help of suitable examples.
    D. Your relative is going through chemotherapy. How will your knowledge about learning theories be helpful?
    E. Discuss the factors facilitating problem-solving.
  2. Answer the following questions:
    A. Explain in detail the use of computer technology in psychological studies. Give your answer citing appropriate recent work in the field.
    B. Describe multiple intelligence theory and its measurement
    C. Why is the research method considered to be the back–bone of any research? Discuss various steps to be undertaken in Psychological research for sound and reliable results.
  3. Answer the following questions:
    A. Describe the factors influencing perceptual organisation with reference to past experiences and perceptual readiness.
    B. What do you understand about the psychological and physiological basis of motivation? Discuss them giving suitable examples.
    C. Discuss some key ideas from Psycho Cybernetics.
  4. Answer the following questions:
    a). Compare and contrast between programmed and probability learning and also highlight their advantages and disadvantages.
    b). Do you think that in multicultural society, socialisation is a big issue? Give your opinion in this regard and suggest proper socialisation mechanism
    c). Differentiate among a theory, a hypothesis and an operational definition.


  1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each:
    A. Should the researcher always formulate a hypothesis before collecting data? Justify your answer with an appropriate example.
    B. Discuss recent trends in the field of decision-making.
    C. How does gender differences account for behaviour?
    D. What hypothetical ideas lead to the development of projective personality tests?
    E. "Knowledge without use is useless." Discuss the statement focussing on the application of psychology in resolving societal problems.
  2. Answer the following questions:
    A. In view of Piaget, "Intellectual development takes place through stages which occur in a fixed order and which are universal regardless of social and cultural background.” Critically examine Piaget's point of view in detail.
    B. Discuss formation of stereotypes and prejudices with the help of suitable examples.
    C. Explain how a double-blind experiment is used to overcome experimenter bias and participant expectancy effects
  3. Answer the following questions:
    A. How do intelligence and aptitude differ ? Explain the two in the light of 'g' and 's' factors of intelligence giving suitable examples.
    B. What is the meaning and significance of plasticity of perception? Discuss.
    C. What are the steps for effective communication training? Discuss in detail.
  4. Answer the following questions:
    A. Do childhood experiences affect us in our entire lives? Elaborate your answer in the light of personality theories.
    B. How can the memory be improved with the help of organisation and mnemonic techniques?
    C. "Human behaviour is affected by multiple factors that tend to overlap. As a result of which it is difficult to analyse the cause of behaviour.” Discuss.



  1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each:
    (a) Compare directional and non-directional therapies with reference to their effectiveness.
    (b) Give a comparative analysis of positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia.
    (c) Explain the nature and significance of biofeedback therapy.
    (d) Explain the nature of dyslexia. How can it be diagnosed?
    (e) "Appreciating diversity is considered as a core value for a community psychologist in India." Justify.
  2. Answer the following questions:
    (a) Discuss the biopsychosocial model of health. Suggest relevant actions to prevent illness.
    (b) Explain the assumptions of behaviour therapy. Discuss various techniques of behaviour therapy to treat phobia.
    (c) Explain the characteristics of standardised psychological tests. Highlight the limitations of psychological tests.
  3. Answer the following questions:
    (a) Explain Maslow's need for hierarchy theory. Critically evaluate the same.
    (b) Explain the strategies for rehabilitation of intellectually challenged person.
    (c) Discuss the role of a psychologist in rehabilitation of victims of domestic violence with special reference to India.
  4. Answer the following questions:
    (a) Discuss the importance and applications of ecological theory for programme implementation of saving the girl child.
    (b) Explain Bandura's theory for understanding criminal behaviour.
    (c) Describe the applications of psychological principles in the field of marketing. Cite illustrations from Indian context.


  1. Answer the following questions in about 150 words each:
    (a) Explain with suitable examples the psychosocial consequences of prolonged deprivation.
    (b) What are the measures to achieve social integration?
    (c) Explain the role of mass media in fostering societal values.
    (d) What psychological interventions can be planned to improve the performance of athletes?
    (e) How does self-fulfilling prophecy work in the case of traditional Indian women?
  2. Answer the following questions:
    (a) Discuss the steps to be taken to reduce the incidence of school dropouts among deprived groups.
    (b) Discuss the psychological strategies for handling the intergroup conflict.
    (c) What is achievement motivation? Discuss how family and cultural factors contribute to enhance achievement motivation.
  3. Answer the following questions:
    (a) Discuss the psychological and social effects of pornography addiction.
    (b) Discuss the strategies for promoting positive mental health among defence personnel.
    (c) What is pro-environmental behaviour ? Design an intervention plan for developing pro-environmental behaviour among schoolchildren.
  4. Answer the following questions:
    (a) To what extent an individual's life experiences are relevant for understanding terrorism?
    (b) Discuss the psychological consequences of population explosion- Suggest some techniques to enhance awareness among people for population control.
    (c) How does gender socialisation in India lead to gender discrimination?

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