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.

Cognitive Aspect

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

The Two Aspect Model of Moral Behavior

Moral behavior is defined and described by 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.

“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 University of Chicago, Unpublished doctoral dissertation, p. 21.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.” p. 16.

The Two 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.

“… 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.

The Two Aspect-Two Layer Model of the Moral Self

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

– Reading:
Lind, G. (2019). Moral ist lehrbar.  Berlin: Logos.
LInd, G, (2019). How to teach morality.  Berlin: Logos.

The Education Theory of Moral Development

has been suggested by Georg Lind (2002) to explain, predict and foster moral (-democratic) competence as an alternative to genetic theories of moral development (inborn morality, invariant sequence of stages of development) and 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.

– Reading: Lind, G. (2002). Ist Moral lehrbar? [Can morality be taught?] Ergebnisse der modernen moralpsychologischen Forschung. Berlin: Logos,
– See: Konstanz Method of Dilemma-Discussion.

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 (KBM) of dilemma discussion, 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).


Lind, G. (2019). Moral ist lehrbar [Morality can be taught]. 4th edition. Berlin: Logos. Chinese, Turkish and Polish edition in preparation. 2nd edition available in Spanish and Greek.

Moral Competence 

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

Moral competence is revealed in a person’s manifest behavior and can be objectively measured. The person must not be conscious of his or her moral competence. This concept is not to be confused with moral judgment competence or ethical competence.

Synonyms: Moral structure, moral cognition.

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

– Reading:

Chapter 4 of “How to teach moral competence.”
How to make moral competence visible.”
– Synonyms: German Moralisches Kompetenz-Test (MKT).

Moral Judgment Competence (Kohlberg)

is  “the capacity to make decisions and judgments which are moral (i.e., based on internal principles) 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 Orientation

is the particular moral principle which a person expresses in her or his pattern of behavior. Synonyms: Moral content, values, attitudes, motives.

Moral Dilemma

is a situation in which a person cannot solve a problem without violating one or more of his or her moral principles.

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.

– 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.
– 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 to 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).

© 2020 by Georg Lind

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