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Social Processes: Methodology · Types of test

The Defining Issues Test or the DIT is a component model of moral development devised by James Rest in 1979.[1] The University of Minnesota formally established the Center for the Study of Ethical Development as a vehicle for research around this test in 1982.

The DIT uses a likert-like scale to give quantitative rankings to six moral dilemmas, the data of which are then analyzed. The analysis of this data reveals information about three schemas of moral reasoning: The Personal Interests Schema, The Maintaining Norms Schema and the Postconventional Schema. One of the test's original purposes was to assess the transition of moral development from adolescence to adulthood. In 1999 the test was revised in the DIT-2 for brevity, clarity and more powerful validity criteria.[2][3]

The DIT has been dubbed 'Neo-Kohlbergian' by its constituents as it emphasizes cognition, personal construction, development and postconventional moral thinking - reflective of the work by Lawrence Kohlberg and his stages of moral development.[4][5]

See AlsoEdit


  1. Rest, James (1979). Development in Judging Moral Issues, University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 0816608911.
  2. Center for the Study of Ethical Development. (Website) DIT-2. URL accessed on 2006-12-04.
  3. Rest, James, Narvaez, D., Bebeau, M. and Thoma, S. (1999). DIT-2: Devising and testing a new instrument of moral judgment. Journal of Educational Psychology 91 (4): 644-659.
  4. Rest, James, Narvaez, D., Bebeau, M. and Thoma, S. (1999). A Neo-Kohlbergian Approach: The DIT and Schema Theory. Educational Psychology Review 11 (4): 291-324.
  5. Rest, James; Narvaez, D., Bebeau, M. and Thoma, S. (1999). Postconventional Moral Thinking: A Neo-Kohlbergian Approach, Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. ISBN 0805832858.

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