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Based on a theory of moral regard for personhood, a criterion-related instrument was developed to measure variations in the cognitive structure used to give meaning to personhood in patients. The cognitive structure, called empathetic maturity, has three hierarchical levels. It is measured indirectly through analysis of thought structure. Psychometrics were established in a sample of 41 nurses. Cronbach's alpha was.68. Construct was established by correlation with the Defining Issues Test at r = .51, p < 01; with age and education controlled, r = .44, p < .01.