Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr. Paul C. Friday

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas VanValey

Third Advisor

Dr. Bob Wertkin


The present study tests the utility of status characteristics and expectation states theory in the context of the juvenile court. The theory contends that there is dispositional certainty when case related factors are consistently rated serious or nonserious; the severity of the sanction will reflect the seriousness of the case. However, the likelihood of sentencing disparities based on individual characteristics (e.g., race and SES) increases as case related factors become increasingly inconsistent, with some rated serious and others rated nonserious.

Data to test this theory were collected from the Kalamazoo County Juvenile Court, Kalamazoo, Michigan in June and July, 1990. Two hundred delinquency cases were selected randomly from all active case files in 1988 and 1989.

Utilizing logistic regression as the analytic procedure, status characteristics and expectation states theory was found to be inadequate in modeling the juvenile court decision making process. Data suggest however, that revising the theory to better reflect the discretionary nature of the juvenile court may prove fruitful.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access