Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Family Consumer Human Development

Department name when degree awarded

Family and Human Development

Committee Chair(s)

Jay Skidmore, Brent Miller


Jay Skidmore


Brent Miller


Jay Schvaneveldt


Ed Conry


This research provides a descriptive study of the use of social science research contained in reported decisions of the United States Supreme Court. The cases were selected from case abstracts contained in two U.S. Supreme Court digests. The author relied on the court reporter's arrangement of abstracts of case decisions (sorted by substantive areas of the law) to identify relevant cases presenting issues of parent -child and husband-wife relations.

The following substantive areas were initially selected using this method: abortion, adultery and fornication, adoption, immigration, exclusion and deportation, bigamy, bastards, dower, death, domicil, divorce and separation, guardian and ward, homestead, husband and wife, incompetent persons, infants, kidnapping, indecency, lewdness and obscenity, marriage, privacy, poor and poor laws, torts, schools, social security and unemployment compensation, wills, workman's compensation, and zoning. Substantive areas receiving one or none citations of social science (in the summary tabulations) were excluded, leaving the parent-child areas of abortion, bastards, infants, obscenity, poor and poor laws, schools and social security. The above exclusion process left the husband-wife areas of adultery and fornication, bigamy, divorce and separation, husband and wife, and marriage. The entire text and footnotes were analyzed in the selected cases . The date of the decision, use or non-use of social science research, and the nature or discipline of the research were recorded and tabulated. The substantive caselaw of schools and obscenity were the substantive areas containing the most frequent citations of social science. The study revealed a general trend consistent with Christensen's (1964) model of family research development. Parent-child opinions revealed a general utilization rate of four per cent. The study revealed that history and economics, as social science disciplines, have been cited more frequently by the Supreme Court during the period analyzed than the social science disciplines of sociology and psychology.