Glossary and FAQ

Last revision: August 10, 2016
© Georg Lind



Affective Aspect

describes the orientation (content) of action shown by a person’s pattern of reactions to a known pattern of stimuli or events. Syno­nyms: ►Moral attitudes, values, motives, drives.
– Georg Lind (26.6.15)


Cognitive Aspect

describes the competence (structure) shown by a person’s pattern of reactions to a known pattern of stimuli or events.


Dual Aspect Model of Moral Behavior

Moral behavior is defined and described by these two aspects: moral orientations and moral competence.  These aspects of behavior must be clearly distinguished from one another because they are of a different nature and must be measured differently. They additionally have different origins and need different treatment in education and therapy. But aspects cannot be separated from each other, nor from behavior. They are not components.
– GL (26.6.15)
“When behavior is studied in its cognitive aspect, we are concerned with its structures; when behavior is considered in its affective aspect, we are concerned with its energetics (or ‘economics’ …). While these two aspects cannot be reduced to a single aspect, they are nevertheless inseparable and complementary. For this reason we … find a marked parallelism in their respective evolutions.”
– Reading: Kohlberg, L. (1958). The development of modes of moral thinking and choice in the years 10 to 16. University of Chicago, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, p. 21.
“A systematic general observation of moral behavior, attitudes, or concepts in terms of such set of formal criteria of morality … cross-cuts the usual neat distinctions between moral knowledge or beliefs on the one hand and moral behavior or motivation on the other, since a moral act or attitude cannot be defined either by purely cognitive or by purely motivational criteria.”
– Kohlberg, L. (1958), p. 16.


Dual-Layer Model of Moral Behavior

comprises the unconscious layer of thinking and behavior as described by the Dual-Aspect Model of moral behavior and the conscious layer of verbal reasoning and reflection.
– GL (27.6.15)
“… the child’s verbal thinking consists of a progressive coming into consciousness …, or conscious realization of schemas that have been built up by action. In such cases verbal thought simply lags behind concrete thought.”
– J. Piaget (1965). The moral judgment of the child (Original 1932). New York: The Free Press, p. 117.


Dual-Aspect-Dual-Layer Model of the Moral Self

Affective Aspect Cognitive Aspect
Conscious Verbal Layer Moral principles Moral reasoning and reflection
Unconscious Feeling Layer Moral orientations shown by a person’s pattern of behavior The Moral competence shown by a person’s pattern of behavior

– GL (27.6.15)
– Reading: G. Lind (2015). Moral ist lehrbar. [Morality can be taught.] Berlin: Logos.

– What we know about the interplay between conscious, reasoned judgment and unconscious intuition is well described in the popular book "blink" by Malcolm Gladwell (Back Bay Books).


Education Theory of Moral Development

has been suggested by Lind (2002) to explain, predict and foster moral competence. It contrast both to genetic theories of moral development (inborn morality, invariant sequence of stages of development) and to socialization theories (imprinting of moral habitus by cultures, sub-cultures, nations, or religious dogmas). The theory’s core assumptions are:

  1. Basic moral orientations are inborn and do not need to be taught.
  2. Moral competence exists only rudimentary at birth but must be developed to match the difficulty and complexity of moral tasks encountered in life.
  3. Moral competence grows through coping with moral tasks (i.e., dilemmas, problems, conflicts, puzzles etc.) if these tasks are challenging but not too difficult. If they are too difficult and/or emotionally disturbing, and no support is provided, no learning takes place. By avoiding such tasks moral learning might even be hampered in future.
  4. Because moral learning opportunities become scarce in modern industrialized societies for children, they must be provided in schools, universities, and other institutions of education including public media and cultural events.

– GL (26.6.15)
– Reading: Lind, G. (2002). Ist Moral lehrbar? [Can morality be taught?] Ergebnisse der modernen moralpsychologischen Forschung. Berlin: Logos, 3rd Edition forthcoming (2016).
– See: Konstanzer Methode der Dilemma-Diskussion.


Konstanzer Methode der Dilemma-Diskussion (KMDD)®

is a method for fostering moral (and democratic) competence developed by Georg Lind in the 1990-ties.

The KMDD grew out of the Blatt-Kohlberg-method of dilemma discussion (KBM) , but it has several new features and changes:
- A KMDD session last 90 minutes (KBM: 45 minutes), deals only with one dilemma story (KBM: 4 – 5 stories),
- involves no higher-stage modelling (KBM: plus-1 convention),
- includes 5 minutes quiet time to let participants become aware of, and
articulate their moral feeling elicited by the story (KBM: none),
- includes 10 minutes for dilemma clarification in the class (KBM: none),
- lets the participants take part in a ballot on the protagonist’s decision in the story (KBM: ?),
- allows for time to prepare for a controversial discussion in small groups (KBM: none),
- has a discussion between the pro and the contra group (KBM: none ?),
- has self-moderation through the pingpong-rule (KBM: only moderation by teachers),
- has a nomination of the other group’s best reason given (KBM: none),
- has a final ballot (KBM: none), and provides ample time for feedback of the participants to the KMDD teacher on their learning gains (KBM: none).
– GL (26.6.15)
– Reading: Lind, G. (2015). Moral ist lehrbar [Morality can be taught]. 3rd edition. Berlin: Logos. Chinese, Turkish and Polish edition in preparation. 2nd edition available in Spanish and Greek.
– KMDD ® is an internationally registered trademark in China, Germany, European Union, Switzerland, and Turkey.



in the scientific sense, morality means the total of our internal orientations which guide our behavior, that is, it also includes internal orientations (principles, conscience, rules, values, etc.) which may from a social point of view be considered 'immoral' or 'unlawful'. According to Lawrence Kohlberg six different forms or types of moral orientations can be distinguished.


Moral Behavior

is defined as behavior which is based on internal moral orientations (principles, ideals, values etc.). It needs to be distinguished from rigid, moralistic behavior, which is behavior that follows one, and only one, rule at the expense of any other relevant moral considerations.
The opposite if moral behavior is behavior which is guided by external norms, or which appears -- in regard to moral principles -- random and inconsistent. Inconsistent behavior needs to be clearly distinguished from differentiated, situation-adequate behavior.

Obviously, moral behavior is not easy to assess because it is difficult to discern from moralistic behavior.


Moral Competence

is the ability to solve problems and conflicts on the basis of universal moral principles by means of deliberation and discussion, instead of using violence, deceit and coercion.

More specifically, it is the ability to judge arguments in regard to their moral quality instead of their opinion-agreement.

Synonyms: Reason [Vernunft]. See: Moral Competence Test
– GL (10.9.16)


Moral Competence Test (MCT)

lets us simultaneously measure the two basic aspects of moral behavior: moral orientations (attitudes, values) and moral competence (structure) as manifested in a person’s pattern of reaction to a known pattern of stimuli, that is, pattern of reactions to arguments to be judged for their acceptability for this person.

The index for moral competence, the "C-score" reflects the degree to which the participant judges the given arguments on the basis of their moral quality (the moral orientations which they represent) instead on the basis of their opinion-agreement or other aspects of the arguments.

The MCT was formerly named the Moral Judgement Test (MJT) and, in German, Moralisches Urteil-Test (MUT).

Reading: Lind, G. (2008). The meaning and measurement of moral judgment competence revisited: A dual-aspect model. In: D. Fasko & W. Willis, eds., Contemporary philosophical and psychological perspectives on moral development and education. Cresskill. NJ: Hampton Press, pp. 185 – 220.
Lind, G. (2016). How to teach morality. Promoting deliberation and discussion. Reducing violence and deceit. Berlin: Logos publisher... more
Synonyms: German Moralisches Kompetenz-Test (MKT).

– GL (26.6.15)


Moral Dilemma

is a situation in which a person cannot solve a problem without violating one or more of his or her moral ideals, orientations, or principles.
– GL (1.3.15)


Moral Judgment Competence

is  “the capacity to make decisions and judgments which are moral (i.e., based on internal moral orientations) and to act in accordance with such judgments.”
– Reading: Kohlberg, 1964, Development of moral character and moral ideology. In: M. L. Hoffman & L. W. Hoffman, eds., Review of Child Development Research, Vol. I, pp. 381-431. New York: Russel Sage Foundation, p. 425.


Moral Orientations

are rules, principles, ideals etc. which guide a person's pattern of behavior. They comprise all kinds of guiding rules, not only those we consider of high moral quality form an ethical point of view. Moral oreintations are one of the two aspects of moral behavior. In our model, moral orientations which manifest themselves in our behavior belong to the unconscious layer of human functioning. There is still little research into the relationship between our unconscious, tacit moral orientations and our articulate moral beliefs and principles (layer of ethical reasoning).
Synonyms: Moral ideals, values, attitudes, motives, content.
– GL (1.3.15)


Segmentation, moral-cognitive S.

Lowering of one’s >moral competence in a dilemma situation in which a person turns over responsibility for judgment to an external authority like religion, ideology, military command, or professional ethics instead of using his or her own reason to solve the dilemma.
Operational definition: In the MCT, moral-cognitive Segmentation is the difference of the C-scores of the two dilemma-stories (workers mines doctor) of 8 C-points or more.
– GL (26.6.15)
– Reading: Wakenhut (1982); Lind (2000 d); Senger (2010); Bataglia & Schil­linger (2013). ► Kant (1784): Was ist Aufklärung? Sources: Web: Moral Competence References


Segmentation, moral-affective S.

Lowering of one’s moral orientations in certain situations. Moral-affective regression has been rarely observed. Some participants seem to simulate their moral orientations down in interviews for ‘moral understatement’.
This should be distinguished from different pattern of moral orientations shown in different dilemma contexts, which show that these contexts differ in regard to the moral principles or ideals they demand.
– GL (27.6.15)
– Reading: L. Kohlberg (1958). The development of modes of moral thinking and choice in the years 10 to 16. University of Chicago, Unpublished doctoral dissertation.
– Synonyms: adequate judgment, differentiated judgment.
“The concept of justice then helps concretize the concept of the moral by delimiting situations and attitudes to which our criteria of the moral may be applicable. It also helps to delimit the concept of a ‘moral principle’ as something more than a fixed verbal formula.” (Kohlberg 1957, p. 15).


Frequently Asked Questions
about the Konstanz Method of Dilemma Discussion

  • Question: Can morality and democracy be taught?
    Answer: Certainly YES. However, to teach moral and democratic competences effectively, our understanding of teaching must be improved. Research clearly shows this: a) Good schools and universities already foster these competencies more than is often believed (Lind, 2002). b) We have now effective methods at hand to teach moral and democratic competencies much more effectively than good schools already do (Lind, 2003) ... more.

  • Question: Does the "+1-Convention" play a role in the KMDD, i.e. do pupils need to be confronted with arguments exactly one Kohlbergian stage over their own moral development?
    Answer: No, that is neither practicable nor is necessary and meaningful it. The execution of these by Kohlberg and his colleagues at the beginning of suggested "convention" would mean an immense expenditure, which the level of development the pupil would have to be examined again and again and who must have teachers with heterogeneous classes always exactly fitting argument ready. The +1-Konvention is however not necessary, because, as Lawrence Walker (1986) showed in experiments, Counterarguments of the same or another stage this-same or a still higher stimulation effect to have can. It seems alone important that the pupil is provoked by arguments for thinking and arguing. The +1-Konvention is perhaps even little meaningful, since her an oversize at teacher activities required and the pupil such a thing "improves" as arguments of the authority demonstrates, which has both few gemain with development-orients, democratic basic intention of the theory of Piaget and Kohl mountain. With the Konstanz method of the dilemma discussion therefore without the +1-Konvention one does completely. See also Berkowitz (1981).

  • Question: Are 'real' dilemmas better and more effective than hypothetical dilemmas?
    Answer: It depends on in which context the dilemma discussion is used and which is understood under "real". In principle is recommended to use first hypothetical dilemmas and later realere, if the pupils already achieved a certain level at moral discourse ability and judgement. "hypothetical" is a dilemma if by a decision of the participants no material person is affected; it is followingless. "material" it is called, if the decision of the discussion participants for the actions is binding in the dilemma situation. With the Konstanzer method "semi material" or "realistic" dilemmas assigned, i.e., dilemmas, which do not require a binding decision, but only a hypothetical, which A) are however genuine, i.e., then happened or have happened could, and b) with the discussion participants real moral dilemma feelings and emotions release (like a good novel or film does). As far as research data are present, realistic hypothetical dilemmas proved as highly effective (Lind, 2002), mostly as more effective than material dilemmas.
  • Question: Is it correct that moral educating beginnings should be shown like the dilemma discussion only with young adult effects and not be inserted therefore with children and growing up, thus pupils, at all?
    Answer: That is correct only, if one means the influence of moral preferences and attitudes under moral education. If one has these affektiven aspects of the moral behavior in the eye and these measures, actually it shows up that the dilemma discussion has considerable results only with adults (Schlaefli et aluminium, 1985); with young people only very small effects show up. Possibly this result with the so-called "Hawthorne effect" can be explained: from joy over alternation and special allowance in the training or college everyday life, which bring an experimentally accomplished dilemma discussion with itself, the test subjects in the tester elevations jende stages of the moral praeferieren, over which the test manager in its experiment particularly positively expressed itself. The intervention experiment of Penn (1990), in which the test manager the Kohl mountain stages directly informs, confirms inadvertently this thesis: here particularly strong effects pointed themselves to the preference behavior of the attempt persons. If one is interested however more to promote the cognitive or aspect of ability of the moral behavior then completely different picture results. First are not so easy moral abilities not or to simulate to do (in order something the test manager favours or to produce generally over with other persons a certain impression from itself to), as the experiments of Lind (2002) and Wasel (1994) show.

  • Question: What can one do, if during first vote over the dilemma two very unequal groups develop? A dilemma discussion is not then possible, or?
    Answer: The most problematic, which one could do, would be, to change the dilemma situation in such a way that other voting results are obtained. The pupils check up this fast and feel history less authentically and realistically. Moral emotions dissolve then fast in air and the discussion become drying and academically. Normally it is enough, if small group the less than 30 per cent of all participants does not constitute. If one can estimate the participants well, one can down go possibly with the exception of 5 to 3 participants in the smaller group. With less one should try it in no case. If tuning conditions are too unequal or are there a consent, can either to normal instruction be changed over (that should in natural way and without disappointment and disappointed comments happened), or it can still another one while with the participants about history in the sense of a situation clarifying be spoken. Often spontaneously Dissensen arise in the process of such discussions, from which -- with sufficient routine -- immediately or later a fruitful dilemma hour can be developed.
  • Question: Does the KMDD have to run for two school hours? Aren't 45 minutes not sufficient?
    Answer: Yes, two school hours or altogether approx.. 80 - 90 minutes are after my experience the lower bound for a good, development-promoting dilemma discussion. However for the clarifying phase -- in it is clarified whether in the eyes of the pupils at all a dilemma is present and wherein it lies exact -- should be reserved 15 to 20 minutes. Instructions, tunings and changes of the seat orders need also 10 to 15 minutes. The two small's group phases need in each case 6bis 10 minutes. And the main part -- the dilemma discussion in the plenum -- should at least 30 minutes time get. For reflection at the end 5 to 10 minutes is needed again. My attempts to accomplish the dilemma discussion in 45 minutes failed each time. In this short time did not succeed correctly to induce the pupils to active acting and bringing into a genuine moral discourse others. The Meta anlyse of numerous intervention experiments shows that dilemma discussions are clearly more lasting than those with 1 hour duration.

  • Question: If one uses the dilemma discussion each week or even each day, doesn't that lead to substantial hour loss?
    Answer: I do not recommend such a frequent use of the KMDD (anymore). The gains become the smaller the more often this method is used, and the teacher and the students become tired of it. I believe that one or two KMDD-sessions per year are sufficient for producing measurable effects. It is better to give more students an opportunity to have a KMDD-experience that to over-focus only a few students. Another way to increase the gains from the KMDD is to adapt the way of teaching to the principles of the KMDD (Lind 2015).

  • Question: How are judgments and action connected?
    Answer: Before one can answer it meaningfully, one must clarify only once, what is meant with these words. Usually under "judgement" the statement is verstandent: "I find the behavior XY (e.g. with red at the traffic light always to stand it remains) morally required" and under "acting" the fact that the person, who said that the behavior XY show (it thus e.g. with red at a traffic light always to stand remains) or do not show (sometimes also red over the road can be done). Strictly taken it concerns here however not around a judgement action problem, but the question, how resolution actions and remark actions are connected. Because the statement "I find the behavior XY moral required" is even already an action. The question would have to thus read: Is the judgment behavior XY at all based on a moral judgement or represents it something else, e.g. the attempt to act morally or to the desire, not to knock against ("opposite other humans one may not admit immoral actions"). Exactly this is the problem, which we tried to solve with the Moral Judgment Test (MJT). The central measured value of the MJT, the so-called C-value, indicates, to which degree a person really orients her- or himself with statements and/or during the evaluation of statements at moral categories instead of at other considerations (Lind, 2002b).



Berkowitz, M. W. (1981). A critical appraisal of the education and psychological perspectives on moral discussion. Journal of Educational Thought, 15, 20-33.
Lind, G. (2002). Ist Moral lehrbar? ... more
Lind, G. (2002b). The meaning and measurement...more
Lind, G. (2009). Moral ist lehrbar. ... more
Penn, W. (1995). Teaching ethics -- A direct approach. Journal of Moral Education, 19(2), 124-138.
Schläfli, A., Rest, J. R. & Thoma, S. J. (1985). Does moral education improve moral judgment? A meta-analysis of intervention studies using the Defining Issues Test. Review of Educational Research, 55, 319-352.
Walker, L. J. (1986). Cognitive processes in moral development. In: G.L. Sapp, ed., Handbook of moral development, pp. 109-145 Birmingham, AL Religious Education Press.
Wasel, W. (19949: Simulation moralischer Urteilsfähigkeit. Moralentwicklung: eine kognitiv-strukturelle Veränderung oder ein affektives Phänomen? Unpublished Diploma Thesis, Department of Psychology, University of Konstanz, Germany.



"Hawthorne effect". In the first half of the last century E. Mayo and his colleagues examined in a series of experiments the influence of the lighting conditions at the work place on the productivity. They found that the productivity under all light conditions increased. As explanation one stated however later that not the lighting conditions released the effect, but the fact that at all someone worried about the employer-employee relationships of the workers. The experiments took place in the Hawthorne works of the Western Electric company.