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The House Method

 

Techniques Memory methods > The House Method

Usage | Description | Example | Discussion | See also

 

Usage

Use when you want to remember a large number of things.

Description

Choose a house. It can be your own house, one you know well or even an imaginary house.

Divide the things you want to remember into groups or topics, and associate each topic with one room in the house, for example by imagining a sign on the door (you can reinforce this if you use your own house by actually putting signs there).

Next, divide each topic up into sub-sections and associate these with different parts of the relevant room.

Then imagine the items you want to remember associated into that area.

Example

I have a house called 'dogs' that I use to remember the many breeds of dog. The first floor is medium-sized dogs, with the first room on the right labeled 'gundogs'. I walk into the room and on the right is a golden retriever, chasing and retrieving a golden snitch (from Harry Potter) along the skirting board. Next to him on the table is a Golden Labrador,  standing on a yellow map of Labrador. And so on.

Discussion

This is an elaboration on the Journey Method, where items are associated with points along a journey. The distances are smaller here which can make it more difficult to remember.

A variant of the house method is called the 'BLOKES' system, as it uses six rooms, with ten defined items in each room, for example:

  • Bathroom (bath, tiles, shower, mirror, light, toilet, bin, mat, radiator, sink)
  • Living room (sofa, tv, hi-fi. loudspeaker, coffee table, rug, plant, armchair, bookshelf, picture)
  • Office (keyboard, monitor, filing cabinet, cupboard, fan, office chair, clock, calendar, fire extinguisher, files)
  • Kitchen (washing machine, sink, stove, basket, mop, kettle, saucepan, food mixer, table, extractor)
  • Entrance (door, door mat, coat hooks, umbrella stand, shoe rack, hat, key hook, letterbox, phone, briefcase)
  • Sleeping quarters (bed, wardrobe, side table, dressing table, curtains, pillow, toy, poster, slippers, glass)

To remember a large number of things you probably need more than one normal house. One way of coping is by building extensions to the house or by having a whole street (or town!) of houses.

Legge et al (2012) found that you can use a known place or an imagined place with equal effect.

The house method is also called the memory palace.

See also

The Journey Method

 

Legge, E., Madan, C., Ng, E., and Caplan, J. (2012). Building a memory palace in minutes: Equivalent memory performance using virtual versus conventional environments with the Method of Loci. Acta Psychologica, 141 (3), 380-390

 

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