Ep 210: How to Memorize Kolhberg’s Stages of Moral Development

Need to memorize Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development really quickly? This is what you’re looking for – a brief audio podcast in which I give you some crazy images that will stick in your mind for a really long time. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll have the six stages memorized. Some of my listeners have said that the mnemonics they’ve learned here have stuck in the stuck in their head for years! Whether you are studying for a psychology test or a nursing exam, you will find this a fun and effective way to learn. I challenge you to listen to this episode and then quiz yourself a few hours later. You’ll be pleasantly surprised. Let’s memorize!

Mnemonic Imagery for Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development

  • Three levels in the theory: “PCP”: Preconventional, Conventional and Postconventional.
  • Three people to represent those levels: a Preacher a Convict and a Postman.
  • Preconventional: stage 1 keyword: obedience (“bees and ants”), stage 2 keyword: self-interest (we’ll use “fish” for selfish interest): picture a preacher smacking bees and ants with a fish.
  • Conventional: stage 3 keyword: societal norms (“a guy named Norm”), stage 4 keyword: law and order (a prison): picture: a convict with the name “Norm” written across his chest who is behind prison bars.
  • Postconventional: stage 5 keyword: social contract, stage 6 keyword: universal principles. Picture: a postman delivering two things to your house – a contract you have to sign and your latest edition of Universe Today magazine.

Using the “1 is a Bun” Approach to Memorizing Kohlberg’s Stages

  • 1 is a bun and the key term from Kohlberg’s model is obedience: imagine a bun with bees and ants crawling all over it (yuk)
  • 2 is a shoe and the key tern is self-interest: picture a fish wearing shoes
  • 3 is a tree and the key term is societal norms: picture a guy names Norm sitting in a tree, or a tree whose leaves spell out the name Norm
  • 4 is a door and the key term is law and order: picture a policeman holding up a door or knocking on your door
  • 5 is a hive and the key term is social contract: picture bees sitting on top of a hive shaking hands in agreement) or signing a contract
  • 6 is sticks and the key term is universal principles: picture the Milky Way made out of sticks instead of stars

Ep 202: How To Memorize Freud’s Stages of Psychosexual Development

Need to memorize Freud’s stages of psychosexual development for a test? Here’s a mnemonic that should do the trick. In this brief video, the founder of psychoanalysis gives you a mnemonic and explains the 5 stages for you. What do orangutans and ogres have to do with Freud’s stages?


Find out in this episode and make sure to check out these other Psych Files episodes for psychology mnemonics: How to Memorize the Parts of the Brain, How to Memorize Erikson’s Eight Stages, and How to Memorize Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development. I love mnemonics here on The Psych Files so if you need to memorize anything else let me know!

Ep 195: How To Memorize Piaget’s Stages of Cognitive Development

Do you need to memorize Piaget’s stages for a test? You’ve found what you’re looking for. I’ll use some familiar mnemonics (“1 is a bun”, etc.) and some wacky images to get those stages – and what happens during them – into your mind. You’ll be able to remember when object permanence occurs, when children are capable of assimilation and accommodation, abstract and logical thinking, conservation of energy – it’s all here. Take the time to watch this video, learn about mnemonics and memorize Piaget’s stages of cognitive development once and for all!


Mnemonic for Piaget’s Stages

  • Stage 1 – “1 is a bun” and SensoriMotor: use the “motor” part of sensorimotor and picture 4 cinnamon buns in place of the wheels on the motorcycle. To remember that object permanence occurs in this stage, use “two ants” for “permanence” and picture two ants riding two motorcycles
  • Stage 2 – “2 is a shoe” and Preoperational: use “preacher” and imagine him wearing outrageously ugly or funny shoes. For magical thinking, which is typical of this stage, picture a rabbit coming out of the preacher’s hat. To remember that the conservation tasks are a challenge during this stage, picture Smokey the Bear also wearing ridiculous shoes. To remember that assimilation also occurs in this stage, picture an ass (donkey) with those same shoes.
  • Stage 3 – “3 is a tree” and Concrete Operations: picture a tree with concrete leaves and the tree is growing out of a concrete pot. Next to the tree is a pile of logs (for logical thinking) and also next to the tree is a wooden commode (for accommodation).
  • Stage 3 – “4 is a door” and Formal Operations: picture a very wide door and behind that door are “four males” with excellent abs (for abstract thinking, which is possible at this stage).

Click on this image which will open a new window. Download it and even use the images as flashcards:

Memorize Piaget's Stages

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Episode 96 (video): The Phonetic Alphabet Part 2

In this video you’ll learn exactly how the phonetic alphabet system works. In the last episode you saw me memorize – almost perfectly – a list of 20 top sci-fi movies. How did I do it? I’ll show you how each number becomes a letter, each letter becomes a word and each word becomes an image that will help you memorize just about any size list. Skeptical? You won’t be after seeing exactly how the phonetic alphabet works.

Resources on the Phonetic Alphabet System

  • Here is a Word document which contains all the information on the phonetic alphabet you saw me show in the video (and contained in the image below).
  • Here’s an image containing the words and images I used in the video:

Episode 95 (video): Advanced Mnemonics: The Phonetic Alphabet Part 1

Did you know there’s a mnemonic device that is more powerful than the "One is a bun" pegword mnemonic? It’s called the Phonetic Alphabet. This is a system you can use for lists that have more than 12 items. In this video I show you how the phonetic alphabet system works. Every number becomes a letter and a concrete word that you can visualize to help you remember a list of any length. See how to put mental imagery and your memory to work in this video.

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