References: Measurement, Nature and Development of

Moral Competence (MCT)

Lind's publications
Last revision: July 7, 2020

References: Fostering moral competence with KMDD and other methods

Ideas for moral competence research

Moral CompetenceTest (MCT)

Improvement of Teaching Through Self-Monitored Evaluation (ITSE)



On complexity

"Entities should not be multiplied without necessity." (William of Ockham, 1285–1347)

On hypotheses

"A statement that conveys more information has a greater informative or logical content; it is the better statement." (Karl Popper, 1972, Objective knowledge. An evolutionary approach. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, p. 55)

On validity

"To what extent does the proposed test measure a trait that 'really' exists?" (p. 643) (Jane Loevinger, 1957, p. 643) (= Theoretical validity; GL)


Note: As an effort to follow Ockham's advice, and to reduce the number of concepts involved in my Dual-Aspect Theory of moral behavior, and to make my theory, as Popper reminds us, more informative and better testable, I have made a few terminological changes over the past four decades of research:

  • The main object of my research has always been, and still is, moral competence. Already in the past I have frequently used this term, but I have also used other terms like 'moral judgment' and 'moral reasoning.'. I dropped these termes because they are often used for designating the conscious process of ethical judgment and ethical reasoning rather than for the largely unconscious process of moral competence.
  • Sometimes, I also use the term moral-democratic competence to indicate that moral competence applies to both, thinking and discussion.
  • Accordingly, I have renamed the once-called Moral Judgment Test (MJT) to Moral Competence Test (MCT). The MCT lets us make an individuals' moral competence visible in their actual pattern of responses to the MCT.

Georg Lind, Nov. 2019.

Recent publications on the MCT:

Lind, G. (2019). How to make moral competence visible. Chapter 4 of: How to teach moral competence. New: Discussion Theater. Berlin: Logos. ...more

Lind, G. (2019). The art of experimental psychology. Ideas for studying moral competence and beyond. Manuscript. more

Lind, G. (2017). Lectures on moral competence at the University of California, Irvine, July 28-29, 2017.
Part 1: The Relevance of Moral Competence for Social Behavior,,
Part 2: Moral Competence.

Lind, G. (2019). Moral ist lehrbar. Wie man moralisch-demokratische Fähigkeiten fördern und damit Gewalt, Betrug und Macht mindern kann. Mit Diskussions-Theater. 4. Erweitere Auflage. Berlin: Logos.

Schmiljun, André (2019). Moral competence and moral orientation in robots. Ethics in Progress, 10, 2. (download)

"Abstract: Two major strategies (the top-down and bottom-up strategies) are currently discussed in robot ethics for moral integration. I will argue that both strategies are not sufficient. Instead, I agree with Bertram F. Malle and Matthias Scheutz that robots need to be equipped with moral competence if we don’t want them to be a potential risk in society, causing harm, social problems or conflicts. However, I claim that we should not define moral competence merely as a result of different “elements” or “components” we can randomly change. My suggestion is to follow Georg Lind’s dual aspect dual layer theory of moral self that provides a broader perspective and another vocabulary for the discussion in robot ethics. According to Lind, moral competence is only one aspect of moral behavior that we cannot separate from its second aspect: moral orientation. As a result, the thesis of this paper is that integrating morality into robots has to include moral orientation and moral competence."

===================== Publications in alphabetic order ===================

Abbasi, W. G., Shakir, S., Azhaar, M., Arif, P., Shariff, N. & Syed, H. (2017). Effect of medical education on the moral competence of medical students. Proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Arts and Humanities 4, 127-140. DOI:

moral competence of medical students

Comment: Like in all other studies, medical education has a negativ impact on the MCT's C-score. This seems to be world-wide phenomenon. See Lind (2000) and Lind (2013). Because moral competence is very important for professional behavior, medical education needs to be supplemented with interventions that promote moral competence, like the Konstanz Methode of Dilemma Discusson (see Lind 2019; Hernandez et al 2005).

Abdel-Hadi, S. A. (2017). The level of moral competence and its relationship with the variables of, gender, specialization and academic year among Al Falah University in Dubai. International Journal of Business and Society 18, S3, 463-478.

"Moral Competence is a term used in the current study to indicate the student who has a master and internalize the laws and mastery in the use of language, skill, and knowledge, showing the integration of a number of important capabilities; such as: a sense of moral and desire to do what is right, and serious will to do the right thing, and the trend and the ability to continue to do what is right, and wisdom, caution and prudence, and possess knowledge about how to do what is right (Liszka, 2002). And the moral competence is defined procedurally in this study as: total score obtained by the student on the ethical sufficiently scale used in this study, as scale items measure the student's level in the integrity and honesty and impression management and responsibility." (p. 469)

Comment (GL): The author of this study claims that he deals with moral competence, but actually uses a measure that contains no moral task but consists of a hodgepodge of concepts: "has a master" (what ever this means), "internalizes the law", "has mastery of language" (why this?), "has skill" (which one?) and "knowledge" (which one?), and "showing a number of important capabilities" (which capabilities?), and so on and so on. He quotes Kohlberg's definition of moral judgment competence (without revealing his reference) but does not explain why he does not use it. He quotes an existing tests of moral competence (Lind 2008) without explaining why he does not employ it.


Acton, G.S. & Revelle, W. (2004). Evaluation of Ten Psychometric Criteria for Circumplex Structure. Methods of Psychological Research Online 2004, Vol. 9, No. 1, 1 - 27. ... more

"A common model for representing psychological data is simple structure (Thurstone (1947). According to one common interpretation, data are simple structured when items or scales have non-zero factor loadings on one and only one factor (Revelle & Rocklin (1979)1. Despite the common place application of simple structure, some psychological models are defined by a lack of simple structure. Circumplexes (Guttman (1954) are one kind of model in which simple structure is lacking." (p. 1).

Comment: The (quasi-) circumplex of stage-correlations has become one of the core validity criteria of the MCT. I borrowed this idea from Kohlberg (1958), who in turn borrowed it from Guttman (1954).

Background: Thurstone's model is the basis of "classical test theory." This model assumes that each item of a test measures the same psychological property (e.g., general intenlligence) and possesses the same difficulty, so that all items are highly (linearly) correlated with each other. Ideally, these correlations are perfect (r = 1.0), yet assumed measurement error reduces these correlations. Gutman's model is similar. It also states that all items measure the same construct but that they differ in regard to their difficulty. Because of the way statistical linear correlations are defined, the correlation between items with different difficulty cannot be r = 1.0 even in the absence of measurement error. This is not a "lack" of simple structure but a consequence of the definition of linear correlation. Guttman argued that the correlations whould be highest for items with most similar difficulty and the similar the more different their difficulty is. When such a structure is given, a factor analysis results in two factors with factor loadings describing a circumflex (a quarter of a circle). See validation crieria for the MCT.

Abdu, Aminu (2008). Socio-cultural factors in the patterns of empathy, prosocial reasoning and moral judgment among senior secondary school students in Nigeria. Unpublished Dissertation, Post Graduate School, Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria.(no page numbers are given)

[The data reported in the tables in this study are highly contradictory. According to some tables, the average C-score in this study is about 11, in other tables it is about 28. I recommend a thorough re-analysis of all data. GL ... more]


Agurto, M., Tello, D., et al. (2017). Índice C en médicos de dos centros hospitalarios chilenos según el test de competencia moral de Lind. Revista medica de Chile, 145, 1122-1128.

"Assessment of moral competence of physicians.
Background: Moral competence (MC) in physicians is fundamental, given the increasing complexity of medicine. The “Moral Competence Test” (MCT © Lind) evaluates this feature and its indicator is the C Index (CI). Aim: To explore moral competence and its associated factors among physicians working in Chile. Material and Methods: The MCT was answered by 236 physicians from two medical centers who voluntarily participated in the study. Besides the test, participants completed an encrypted form giving information about gender, years in practice and post-graduate studies. Results: The average CI value of the participants was 20,9. Post-graduate studies had a significant positive influence on CI. There was a significant decrease in CI, between 16 and 20 years of professional exercise. Gender and the area of post-graduate studies did not have a significant influence. Conclusions: The studied physicians showed a wide range of CI which was positively affected by the postgraduate studies performed. The years of professional practice had a negative influence. Expanding training opportunities during professional practice could have a positive effect on moral competence as measured by CI."

Comment: Each day medical doctors have to solve many problems and conflicts. We expect them to cope with these problems and conflicts on the basis of their moral principles, which they doubtlessly have. But they need also moral competence, that is the ability to cope with them through thinking and discussion, instead of through power, deceit, or submission under the authority of others. In other words, the profession of medicine requires a rather high level of moral competence. Yet, as this important study shows,  medical education does not foster this enough in Chile (but also in many other countries). The average C Index of 20,9 for these physicians is just the minimum which is needed for cooperating in a social environment (Lind 2016). This means that about half of the physicians is below that minimum. These physician can hardly practice their profession at the level which we should expect. This finding should motivate all who are responsible for medical education to provide opportunities for developing higher moral competence in medical students. The positive effect of postgraduate studies seems to support this request. (Note: I cannot detect any systematic correlation between years of practice and moral competence level. The variation of average scores could be due to sampling effects or quality of education when these age cohorts were studying.) Georg Lind


Akin, Asli (2020). Religiöse Erziehung und Moralentwicklung: Der Einfluss einer religiös geprägten Kindheit auf die moralische Orientierung und Kompetenz. Ethics in Progress (ISSN 2084-9257). Vol. 9 (2018). No. 2, Art. #3, pp. 27-43. Doi:10.14746/eip.2018.2.3. | download

"Insgesamt konnten die Ergebnisse der vorgestellten Studie den bedeutenden Einfluss der frühkindlichen Erziehungserfahrungen für die Moralkompetenz im Erwachsenenalter belegen. Es lässt sich festhalten, dass dogmatisch religiöse Erziehungsmethoden als moralhemmend einzustufen sind, aber welche Erziehungsmethoden eine hohe Moralkompetenz fördern bleibt folglich unbeantwortet und bedarf einer ausführlichen Untersuchung." (p. 39)

Title: "Religious education and moral development: The influence of a religiously influenced childhood on moral orientation and competence."

"All in all, the results of the presented study could prove the significant influence of early childhood educational experiences on moral competence in adulthood. It can be stated that dogmatically religious educational methods are to be classified as inhibiting the development of moral competence, but which educational methods promote moral competence remains unanswered and requires detailed investigation." (Translation by GL) (p. 39)


(C-scores added by GL)


Anderson, N.H. (1991). Moral-social development. In: N.H. Anderson, ed., Information integration theory. Volume III: Developmental, pp. 137-187. Hillsdale, NJ: L. Erlbaum.Anderson, N.H. (1973). Functional measurement of social desirability. Sociometry, 36, 89 - 98. ... more

I borrowed ideas from Anderson's concepts of information integration and functional measurement for constructing the MCT. GL

Anderson, S. W., Bechera, A., Damasio, H., Tranel, D., & Damasio, A. R. (1999). Impairment of social and moral behavior related to early damage in human prefrontal cortex. Nature Neuroscience, 2 (11), 1032-1037.

These authors were among the first who discovered the unique functions of the frontal brain, especially the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (rDLPFC) for the integration of (conscious) symbolic reasoning on the one side and affective and emotional impulses originating in the limbic system. They show that if this part of the brain is impaired, people can still use their symbolic functions and cognitive skills but can no longer control their moral behavior. See also Prehn et al. (2008).

Barnett, R., Evens, J., & Rest, J. (1995). Faking moral judgment on the Defining Issues Test. British Journal of Social Psychology, 34, 267-278. see also Lind (1996).

Bataglia, Patricia (2009). A Validação do Teste de Juízo Moral (MJT) para Diferentes Culturas: O Caso Brasileiro (Moral Judgment Test (MJT) * Adaptation for Different Cultures: Brazilian Case.) Psicologia: Reflexão e Crítica, 23(1), 83-91. ... more [* now called Moral Competence Test]

Bataglia, Patricia (1999). The development of moral competence in psychologists. The development of moral competence in psychologists. Paper presented at the AME conference, Nov. 1999, Minneapolis.

Bataglia, P., Schillinger, M. (2013). Moral segmentation in studies with the Moral Judgment Test in Brazil. In: E. Nowak, D. Schrader & B. Zizek., eds., Educating competencies for democracy, pp. 71 - 82. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Verlag.

"Abstract: Analyzing Brazilian MCT data (Bataglia & Schillinger, 2002) separately in a retrospective study, we have noticed that all the samples had much better results in the Workers' Dilemma than in the Doctor 's Dilemma (i.e., Mercy Killing Dilemma). This phenomenon has been called moral segmentation (Wakenhut, 1972 [, Krämer-Badoni & Wakenhut, 1985, GL]). The purpose of the present paper is to present a history of our efforts at investigating the moral segmentation phenom enon in Brazil. Some possible hypotheses and explana tions are presented below." (p. 71)

Bataglia, P., Schillinger-Agati, M. M., Lind, G. & , Quevedo, T.L. (2003). Testing the segmentation hypothesis with an Extended Version of the MJT.* Poster presented at the meeting of the Association for Moral Education, Krakow, July 19, 2003. ... more [* now called Moral Competence Test]

Bataglia, P., Agati (Schillinger), M., Torres, S., Zanoni Crivelaro, D.B., et al. (2002). The development of moral competence and religious commitment in Brazil. Paper presented at the Meeting of the Association for Moral Education, Chicago, Nov. 2002. ... more

Bear, G. G. (1989). Sociomoral reasoning and antisocial behaviors among normal sixth graders. Merrill-Palmer Quarterly 35, 2, 181-196.

Beck, Klaus (1995). Methodologische Probleme und empirische Befunde. In: E.H. Hoff & L. Lappe, eds., Verantwortung im Arbeitsleben, pp. 114 - 128. Heidelberg, Germany: Roland Asanger Publ.

"[D]as von Lind entworfene (freilich von ihm anders verstandene) Messinstument, der 'Moralisches Urteil-Test' (MUT/MJT; 1978)*. Er präsentiert dem Probanden ein Stimulusmaterial, für das die psychische Funktion 'moralische Urteilsbildung' sensibel sein und auf welches sie daher modifizierend wirken müßte mit der Folge eines entsprechenden Verhaltensoutputs. So gesehen provoziert er ein (Antwort-/Ankreuz-)Verhalten, dessen inter- und intrapersonale Variation im wesentlichen auf die unterschiedliche 'Bearbeitung' des systematisch variierten Simulusmaterials (Geschichte, Pro-Contra-Argumente) in der 'Funktionsstelle: Moralische Urteilsbildung' zurückzuführen sein dürfte." (p. 119) [* now called Moral Competence Test]

"Insofar the MJT can be seen as an measurement instrument which is relevant for Kohlberg's theory (see also Heidbrink, 1991, p. 110-121 and 137-150)." (p. 120, my translation GL)

Bennato, A. & Oraisón, M. (2000 ?). La intervención ético-pedagógica en la formación docente. Una propuesta para su tematización y aplicación.
Available from:

Biggs, Donald, Colesante, R., Agafonov, A., Felming, J., & Campbell, K. (1999). Education about controversial issues: the role of tolerance, moral judgment, and course involvement. Symposium at the AME conference in Minneapolis, Nov. 1999.

Blasi, A. (1980). Bridging moral cognition and moral action: A critical review of the literature. Psychological Bulletin, 88, 1-45.

"Delinquent individuals tend to use developmentally lower modes of moral reasoning than do matched nondelinquents." (p. 11)

"Moral judgment delay in delinquents represented the 'strongest' (p. 37) area of support for the hypothesis that moral reasoning and moral action are related." (p. 37; quoted in Basinger et al. 1993, ms.; p. 7)

Block, J. (1977). Advancing the psychology of personality. D. Magnusson & N. Endler, eds., Personality at the crossroads, pp. 37-63. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

"Perhaps 90% of the studies are methodologically inadequate, without conceptual implication, and even foolish. ... Many concepts have not been well represented by their operational indicators. Psychologists have been extraordinarily causal and even irresponsible in developing measures to represent concepts. ... Psychologists often employ research designs almost guaranteed to obscure relationships that may be residing in the data." (p. 39, 40, 41)

Brabeck, M. (1984). Ethical characteristics of whistle blowers. Journal of Research in Personality 18(1), 41-53.

Broughton, John (1978). The cognitive-developmental approach to morality: A reply to Kurtines and Greif. Journal of Moral Education 1, 81-96.

Comment: John Broughton brilliantly refutes the critique of Kohlberg's measurement approach by Kurtines and Greif.

Brügelmann, Hans (1979). Erfahrungen mit dem Test zum 'Moralischen Urteil' (M-U-T)* bei Konstanzer und Tübinger Jura-Studenten. (Experiences with the Moral Judgment Test* applied to law students in Konstanz and Tübingen, Germany.) In: G. Lind, ed., Moralische Entwicklung und soziale Umwelt. Konstanz Tagungsbericht, S. 74-81.... more [* now called Moral Competence Test, MCT]

Brunswik, Egon (1955): Representative design and probabilistic theory in a functional psychology. Psychological Review, 62(3), 193-217.

I have borrowed from Brunswik the diacritical method for making inferences on the validity of hidden dispositions of behavior for constructing the MCT. GL


Bühn, Andrea (1995). Die Rolle von moralischer Urteils- und Wahrnehmungsfä