Several times, in the Harry Potter series, we are led to believe the sortee has some control over the House they are sorted into. Most famously, Harry Potter turns down his chance at being in Slytherin House, as suggested by the Sorting Hat to be in Gryffindor.

Harry: Not Slytherin. Not Slytherin.

Sorting Hat: Not Slytherin, eh? Are you sure? You could be great, you know. It's all here in your head. And Slytherin will help you on the way to greatness, there's no doubt about that. No?

Harry: Please, please. Anything but Slytherin, anything but Slytherin.

Sorting Hat: Well if you're sure, better be... GRYFFINDOR!

Retrospectively, he fits in Gryffindor House better, but it begs the question:

How far can you persuade the hat away from the House it wants to sort you into? The Hat is quite adamant that Harry would do well in Slytherin. Could a student convince it to sort into the 'wrong' house entirely?

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    Well, I've always kind of wondered what house the sorting hat would be in. (He thinks, he must have a personality, and fit into a house.) It would make the sortings inaccurate, unless he was divergent and fit into every house. That would make all the sorting biased.
    – user13107
    Mar 14, 2013 at 2:25
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    From fanfic, so not necessarily of any canon value.. But Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality hypothesized that the hat has no actual consciousness of it's own; it's merely reflecting and making use of the wearer's mind. That being said, it's simply helping the user clarify in their own mind where they should go. Again, non-canon, but it seems in keeping with JKR's ideas. (She apparently actually likes HPMOR.)
    – K-H-W
    Mar 14, 2013 at 2:43
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    – AncientSwordRage
    Mar 14, 2013 at 8:54

4 Answers 4


As you say in your question, if you choose a particular House to be Sorted into, the Hat will respect that.

“But if it matters to you, you'll be able to choose Gryffindor over Slytherin. The Sorting Hat takes your choice into account."


"It did for me," said Harry.

I think the preferred location of the sortee plays the deciding factor in the sorting. A student that is sorted into a House that they do not wish to be sorted into would be unhappy and unpleasant experience, probably for both the student and the House. However given the Hat effectively considers that person's mind it should be able to determine whether or not the child's request is honest and heartfelt, and hence only take into account those who are honest.

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    So the answer is 'Only if the hat agrees with you'?
    – AncientSwordRage
    Apr 29, 2012 at 9:40
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    I'd phrase it as "Only if you can convince the hat you're sincere".
    – dlanod
    Apr 29, 2012 at 9:41
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    @Pureferret Then you have Peter Pettigrew getting sorted into Gryffindor. Apr 29, 2012 at 14:20
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    @Pureferret - I found the answer to that. Neville apparently did NOT want to be in Gryffindor. The Hatmeister said "well too bad boy, you are wrong". Feb 4, 2014 at 5:57
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    @DVK there is a difference though. Harry genuinely didn't want to be part of Slytherin. Neville wasn't opposed to Gryffindor in principal, he just didn't believe he was capable of living up to it's expectations. The hat was telling him he was wrong about his own self-doubts. Jun 30, 2015 at 10:32

I think it is more that the thought process that you go through will help to determine the house. In Harrys case, the fact that he is so adamant that Slytherin is not the right place for him, despite the fact that he could could be powerful and famous there, indicated that Gryffindor was the right place.

So I think the answer is that you cannot persuade the sorting hat at all, but your preferences will affect the right place for you. The thought processes are important, not the actual preference.


I believe you have some influence over the hat (i.e in harry's case) but not complete control. This was seen when Neville was being sorted. He argued with the hat declaring that he would be better in Hufflepuff as he did not want to be sorted into Gryffindor, but the hat obviously saw something in him and knew that Gryffindor was where he truly belonged. As such while Neville held many of the Hufflepuff traits and would have preferred to be in hufflepuff, the hat chose Gryffindor, demonstrating that the hat ultimately makes the final decision as to what it believes to be the best fit for the student.


I think you cannot influence it that much, but you can have some power over it. However, the final decision will probably belong the the hat. However, the hat might give you a choice in case of your being a hatstall, if I understood it well.

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    Do you have anything from the books that backs up your theory? Apr 18, 2015 at 20:44

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