Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Educational, School, and Counseling Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Ellen L. Usher


Historically, Appalachia has been stereotyped as being a culture bred in poverty and ignorance. Much research has shown that stereotyping reveals a pattern of behavioral change and an impact on psychological well-being for the stereotyped (e.g., Pinel, 1999; Woodcock, Jernandez, Estrada, & Schultz, 2012), and has largely been centered on race and gender (e.g., Byrnes, 2008; Tuckman & Monetti, 2011). Less is known about the development of culture-specific stereotypes such as those related to Appalachians – a highly stigmatized group (Daniels, 2014; Otto, 2002). The purpose of this study was to gain an understanding of how adolescents in rural Appalachia develop awareness of stereotypes about Appalachia. Stratified random sampling was used to select twelve students (Grades 6-12) belonging to a small school district located in the Appalachian region of eastern Kentucky who were invited to participate in individual interviews. Eight of the participants self-identified as Appalachian, but for distinct reasons. Students characterized Appalachia for its strong sense of community, accessibility to nature, and lack of opportunities. All students readily identified negative Appalachian stereotypes, but most, particularly older students, were quick to defend the integrity of their culture and community. When discussing cultural stereotypes, the richness of student responses varied by grade-level.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)