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Study: People tip well to look good in front of others, avoid feelings of guilt |

Study: People tip well to look good in front of others, avoid feelings of guilt

| Wednesday, July 21, 2004 12:00 a.m

In a paper published in 2003, “Tipping in Restaurants and Around the Globe: An Interdisciplinary Review,” Michael Lynn, associate professor at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, discusses various behaviors and theories behind the reasons that diners leave tips.

Theories include:

  • For restaurant regulars, because they think they might be buying “future services.” They hope that the server will remember their generosity the next time they come in for a meal.

  • To help increase the server’s income.

  • To generate pride and avoid feelings of guilt.

  • To meet a desire for social approval from others.

  • Because they think it builds an honest character.

  • Because they think that they’re doing their part to support the system of tipping. If they stiff the server, the theory goes, that could produce a domino effect that will upset the equilibrium.

    Other findings:

  • Research suggests that men tip more than women when the server is female, while women tip more than men when the server is male.

  • Large dining parties leave smaller tips than small dining parties, perhaps because of the “diffusion of responsibility” of tipping.

  • Restaurant patrons who pay by credit card generally pay a higher percent tip than those who pay with cash.

  • One researcher even proposed a theory that tipping is tax evasion by proxy, as tips, which generate $21 billion annually, are among the most frequently under-reported income.

    How servers can increase tips

    In his latest publication, “Increasing Servers’ Tips: What Managers Can Do and Why They Should Do It,” Michael Lynn identifies the following ways for servers to increase tips:

  • Introduce themselves by name.

  • Lean down next to the table when introducing themselves.

  • Smile broadly.

  • Wear unusual ornaments or items of clothing.

  • Entertain customers with jokes or puzzles.

  • Practice suggestive selling.

  • Repeat customers’ orders back to them.

  • Touch customers briefly on the arm or shoulder.

  • Forecast good weather.

  • Write “Thank you” on the check.

  • Draw pictures on the check.

  • Use tip trays embossed with credit card logos.

  • Call customers by name.

  • Give customers after-dinner candies.

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