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Following criticism of Kohlberg's theory of moral judgment, an empirical re-examination of hierarchical stage structure was desirable. Utilizing Piaget's concept of reflective abstraction as a basis, the hierarchical stage structure was investigated using a new method. Study participants (553 Dutch university students and 196 Russian high school students) sorted statements in terms of moral sophistication. These statements were typical for the different stages of moral development as defined in Colby and Kohlberg. The rank ordering performed by participants confirmed the hypotheses. First, despite large individual variation, the ordering of the statements that gave the best fit revealed that each consecutive Kohlbergian stage was perceived to be more morally sophisticated. Second, the lower the stage as represented by the items, the higher the agreement among the participants in their ranking; and the higher the stage as represented by the items, the lower the agreement among the participants in the rankings. Moreover, the pivotal point depended on the developmental characteristics of the sample, which demonstrated a developmental effect: The ordering of statements representative of moral stages below one's own current stage was straightforward, whereas the ordering of statements above one's own stage was difficult. It was concluded that the Piagetian idea of reflective abstraction can be used successfully to operationalize and measure the hierarchical nature of moral development.