Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Gina P. Owens

Committee Members

Erin E. Hardin, Dawn M. Szymanski


Although rurality is often treated as an aspect of diversity, disagreement appears in the literature regarding whether the traditionally rural values of self-reliance, distrust of outsiders, religiosity, centrality of family, and fatalism continue to differentiate rural versus urban residents. The present study examined whether differences in these values exist between rural and urban residents and whether these values may predict posttraumatic stress symptom (PTSS) severity and posttraumatic growth (PTG). Undergraduates who reported experiencing traumatic and stressful events (N = 213) completed measures of these constructs through an online survey. Over a quarter (n = 56) of participants classified their permanent residences as located in rural areas, primarily in the Southeast. T-test results indicated that rural respondents had significantly higher levels of PTSS severity and distrust of outsiders and significantly lower levels of organized religiosity when compared with urban participants. In predicting stress-related outcomes, a greater emphasis on family, higher distrust toward outsiders, lower levels of intrinsic religious beliefs, and higher levels of fatalism were associated with more severe PTSS. Higher intrinsic religiosity predicted higher levels of PTG. Thus, results suggest that rural and urban undergraduates are becoming more similar with regard to traditionally rural values. Further research is needed to determine if these values continue to apply to rural residents in other generations or regions of the United States, as these values may be important to consider in the context of therapy.

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