What Can The Wheel Of Morality Tell Us?

By BetterHelp Editorial Team|Updated July 11, 2022
CheckedMedically Reviewed By Tanya Harell, LPC

Moral Dilemmas Can Happen To Anyone - Unsure How To Move Forward?

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Morality and the concept of your character have been represented in many different shapes over the years. From pie charts to other symbols, they have allowed psychologists to explain concepts interestingly.

One shape that is used quite a bit is the wheel. The wheel is something that is always moving and can represent human life. The wheel also has many parts that all work together to get moving. One proposed method to observe humans is the character wheel or the wheel of mortality.

The Wheel Of Morality

For a long time, we've wondered how someone can understand the character of someone else. One way we can look at that is through their morals and principles. Do their morals align with their actions? Or are they inconsistent and have no idea what their morals should be? It all depends on the person.

What about the subconscious? There are many subconscious motivations that a person can have, and it allows us to realize hidden motivations that would otherwise be trapped in the unconscious. Freud was one who proposed this.

There are some who may look at a person and how they can put together their understanding of the world around them. Does that make a person's character? What about the Big Five character traits, which state that a person's traits make the being?

It all depends on what you believe. With that said, there are some who believe that the truth is somewhere in the middle. All the psychologists have the pieces together, but they're just not quite putting them all together.

The Character Wheel is an attempt to help those understand what makes up a person more, and it's a simple way for anyone to understand psychology. The character wheel has six domains that are considered to be what makes up a character. In this post, we will look at the Wheel of Morality and see how it operates.

What Makes Up the Wheel?

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The wheel resembles that of a wheel you would see on a car. In the center is the character adaptations, and springing from that center are the many ways that a person adjusts to the environment around them. These include traits, pathologies, abilities, virtues, and finally, an identity. The systems of adaptation themselves do come with more comprehensive names, which include the systems of habit, feelings, relational, defensive, and justification.

These systems can exist in a context that is biological, psychological, and sociological. They can take stressors of the environment around them, along with affordances, and respond to them quite well. A person can then take these systems and use them using maladaptive or adaptive. They can also respond to other theories in psychology.

The systems of adaptation, as it should be noted, are not the full way to understand the entire person. They are very detailed, but they are not the complete well to tell what a person is. As for the other domains, they are parts that have had psychological research done to them. The domains listed can help you take the circle in the wheel and fill it out. Also, when it comes to the wheel symbolism, it's designed that way because of how a person can behave like a wheel. Here are some things a wheel does:

Moves Forward

Whenever a wheel moves forward, it's on its way to the destination. We all imagine a car going down a long and winding road, taking no pit stops as it goes its way to the destination. A person who is moving forward always has a smooth wheel of morality that doesn't need to be changed.

Goes Backward

When a person has a setback or starts unlearning their positive character traits, you can view this as the wheel moving backward. We all had driven and had to back up when we ran into a dead end. Compare that to a person, who may have to go back when they are stuck in a moral dilemma.

Moral Dilemmas Can Happen To Anyone - Unsure How To Move Forward?

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Gets Stuck

Sometimes, a wheel doesn't move at all. Maybe it's because all its parts aren't working. Sometimes, it can be because a person doesn't know where they are going in their life. Other times, it can be because the person doesn't know their destination, and their wheel is at a standstill.

The position of the wheel will all depend on what is going on at the moment, and how the different relations between the different domains are functioning.


Let's look at personality traits as a domain in the wheel. These are one of the most researched aspects of psychology. When it comes to traits, the psychologists have defined five of them that appear across cultures and other barriers. These traits will change as one grows up but will be consistent around the age of after 25. These traits are:

  • This is how susceptible to stress you are. Someone who is neurotic will experience anger, anxiety, depression, and other negative emotions quite often. Someone who is more stable is much calmer and collected. Being too neurotic can give you an interesting personality, but can make you unstable. Being too calm can make you an interesting person.
  • This is how much energy and positivity a person has. Someone who is extraverted will want to seek the company of others very often and will have many different ways of satisfying one's social needs. Meanwhile, an introverted person needs few contacts at all.
  • This is how friendly and trusting you are of a person. Someone who is not agreeable is seen as stubborn and antagonistic. However, being too agreeable can be bad as well. Sometimes, too much agreeableness can lead to being easily fooled or manipulated.
  • This is how organized a person is. By organization, we don't mean how clean one's room is, but how dependable, disciplined, and planned they are. Some people are sporadic and unreliable, while others are so strictly planned it can be a detriment.
  • Also known as openness to experience, this is when you want to have many experiences. It's a curiousness that everyone possesses, but different people can have different levels of openness. Some people are too closed minded and never leave their bubble. Others are too open and are not focused on one particular thing.


This is your self-narration. We all think of ourselves as the protagonists in our book, and someone who has a super positive narration may have an inflated ego and think of themselves as a protagonist who can do no wrong. However, some people have no sense of identity and think of themselves as a scumbag, when they are not.


This is your skillset. We all have different skills at our disposal. One of the most studied skills is intelligence. How smart you are can determine how skilled you are. There can also be more than one intelligence as well. Someone can be artistically intelligent, but unintelligent in sports. Some may possess a little of each intelligence.

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This is what kind of moral values a person has. Everyone has their moral compass, with some always consistently following it. Meanwhile, someone else may have a somewhat competent moral compass but not follow it to a strict degree. It all depends on the person. There are many aspects of morality. These include care vs. harm, fairness vs. cheating, loyalty vs. betrayal, authority vs. subversion, and sanctity vs. degradation.

As you probably guessed, care vs. harm deals with how much empathy you have. Fairness vs. cheating tells you how much you're willing to play by the rules, or take advantage of them and get what you want. Then there is loyalty vs. betrayal, which deals with how reliable you are. Authority vs. subversion talks about how often you question the rules of society. Finally, there is sanctity vs. degradation, which talks about how much you believe tradition should exist.


Finally, we have the pathologies and vulnerabilities stage. In this one, it is a characterization of all the problems in your psychology. Someone may have certain triggers that can make one anxious or depressed. They may have difficulties processing certain cognitions, such as paying attention. They may have odd thought patterns or delusions. There is always the vulnerability of becoming addicted to something or having poor relationship problems.

As humans, we all have flaws, and someone who is vulnerable should list their vulnerabilities and try to improve on them. It's okay to admit you have a problem.

And that's the Character Wheel or the Wheel of Morality. It proves that we are all cars who are heading to our destination. We just have to make sure the wheels are working fine. If your car isn't moving, a counselor may be able to help you sort things out. Sometimes, therapy is all that it takes to keep your car moving.

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