Last revision: November 12, 2017
© Georg Lind




Affective Aspect

describes the orientation (content) of action exhibited in a person’s pattern of reactions to a known pattern of stimuli or events. Synonyms: ►Moral attitudes, values, motives, drives.The consiously articulated moral orientations we call moral values. Whether moral values are related to a person's actual moral competence is a much debated, empirical question.
– Georg Lind (12.11.2017)


Cognitive Aspect

describes the competence (structure) exhibited in a person’s pattern of reactions to a known pattern of stimuli or events. The consciously articulated moral reasons we call moral judgment or moral reasoning. Whether moral reasoning is related to a person's actual moral competence is a much debated, empirical question.


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 University of Chicago, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, p. 21.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 moral reasoning and judgment as decribed by Piaget and Kohlberg.
– GL (12.11.2017)
“… 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.

Since morality is defined by internal factors, it can be properly assessed only when internal standards are used for measurement. This means that most current approaches to psychological measurement are invalid. In contrast, the Moral Competence Test (MCT) uses internal moral orientations as a criterion for scoring (cf. Lind & Nowak, 2015).


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 through deliberation and discussion, instead of through violence, deceit or bowing down to others.

More specifically, moral competence 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 internal 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.

There are two competing theories about the origins of moral orientations: One hypothesizes that moral orientations origin from society, that is, the ethical theories and believe held by the society (or culture, social classs, or milieu) into which one is born. The other hypothesizes that moral orientations are largely inborn and origin in the poeple's moral feelings. I think that this controvery is (at least partly) caused by a confusion of the >layers of consciousness that is meant when speaking of moral orientations.
– GL (12.11.17)


Segmentation, moral-cognitive S.

If one’s >moral competence is considerably lower in a dilemma situation than in another one, we speak of moral segmentation. This happens when 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 defined as "considerably" when the difference of the C-scores of the two dilemma-stories (workers C-score mines doctor C-score) is eight C-points or more.
– GL (12.11.17)
– 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 1958, p. 15).



Berkowitz, M. W. (1981). A critical appraisal of the education and psychological perspectives on moral discussion. Journal of Educational Thought, 15, 20-33.
Kohlberg, L. (1984). Essays on moral development, Vol. II, The psychology of moral development. San Francisco, CA: Harper & Row.
Lind, G. (2002). Ist Moral lehrbar? ... more
Lind, G. (2002b). The meaning and measurement...more
Lind, G. (2016). Morality can be taught. ... more
Penn, W. (1995). Teaching ethics -- A direct approach. Journal of Moral Education, 19(2), 124-138.

Piaget, J. (1965), The moral judgment of the child. New York: The Free Press..
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.