Pettiness: Conceptualization, measurement and cross-cultural differences
Although pettiness, defined as the tendency to get agitated over trivial matters, is a facet of neuroticism which has negative health implications, no measure exists. The goal of the current study was to develop, and validate a short pettiness scale. In Study 1 (N = 2136), Exploratory Factor Analysis distilled a one-factor model with five items. Convergent validity was established using the Big Five Inventory, DASS, Satisfaction with Life Scale, and Conner-Davidson Resilience Scale. As predicted, pettiness was positively associated with neuroticism, depression, anxiety and stress but negatively related to extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness, life satisfaction and resilience. Also, as predicted, pettiness was not significantly related to physical functioning, or blind and constructive patriotism, indicating discriminant validity. Confirmatory Factor Analysis in Study 2 (N = 734) revealed a stable one-factor model of pettiness. In Study 3 (N = 532), the scale, which showed a similar factor structure in the USA and Singapore, also reflected predicted cross-cultural patterns: Pettiness was found to be significantly lower in the United States, a culture categorized as “looser” than in Singapore, a culture classified as “tighter” in terms of Gelfand and colleagues’ framework of national tendencies to oppose social deviance. Results suggest that this brief 5-item tool is a reliable and valid measure of pettiness, and its use in health research is encouraged.