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Why pay extra? Tipping and the importance of social norms and feelings in economic theory

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  • Azar, Ofer H.

Abstract

Tipping is a multi-billion-dollar phenomenon that standard economic models find hard to explain. I discuss several aspects of tipping and divide tipping to six different categories: reward-tipping, price- tipping, tipping-in-advance, bribery-tipping, holiday-tipping and gift- tipping, and discuss the economics of each category. Often tipping has economic justification, because it solves some inefficiency and increases welfare. Analyzing the potential reasons for tipping illustrates the importance of social norms and feelings (e.g. embarrassment and unfairness felt when one does not tip) in motivating economic behavior. Retaliatory behavior that workers sometimes exhibit towards non-tipping patrons is then discussed, and ideas for future research are proposed.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics).

Volume (Year): 36 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 250-265

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Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:36:y:2007:i:2:p:250-265

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Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/620175

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References

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  1. Jon Elster, 1998. "Emotions and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 36(1), pages 47-74, March.
  2. Kahneman, Daniel & Knetsch, Jack L & Thaler, Richard, 1986. "Fairness as a Constraint on Profit Seeking: Entitlements in the Market," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 76(4), pages 728-41, September.
  3. Lynn, Michael & Grassman, Andrea, 1990. "Restaurant tipping: an examination of three 'rational' explanations," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 11(2), pages 169-181, June.
  4. Akerlof, George A, 1970. "The Market for 'Lemons': Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 84(3), pages 488-500, August.
  5. Ernst Fehr & Simon G�chter, 2000. "Fairness and Retaliation: The Economics of Reciprocity," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(3), pages 159-181, Summer.
  6. Falk, Armin & Fehr, Ernst, 2002. "Psychological Foundations of Incentives," CEPR Discussion Papers 3185, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Ofer H. Azar, 2003. "The History of Tipping - From Sixteenth-Century England to United States in the 1910s," Economic History 0309001, EconWPA.
  8. Azar, Ofer H., 2004. "What sustains social norms and how they evolve?: The case of tipping," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 54(1), pages 49-64, May.
  9. Ofer H. Azar, 2003. "Optimal Monitoring with External Incentives: The Case of Tipping," Industrial Organization 0312004, EconWPA.
  10. Wessels, Walter John, 1997. "Minimum Wages and Tipped Servers," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(2), pages 334-49, April.
  11. Ofer H. Azar, 2005. "The Social Norm of Tipping: Does it Improve Social Welfare?," Others 0503013, EconWPA.
  12. Matthew Rabin., 1997. "Psychology and Economics," Economics Working Papers 97-251, University of California at Berkeley.
  13. Lynn, Michael & Zinkhan, George M & Harris, Judy, 1993. " Consumer Tipping: A Cross-Country Study," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 20(3), pages 478-88, December.
  14. Rachel Barkan & Aviad Israeli, 2004. "Testing servers' roles as experts and managers of tipping behaviour," The Service Industries Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(6), pages 91-108, November.
  15. Richard H. Thaler, 2000. "From Homo Economicus to Homo Sapiens," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 14(1), pages 133-141, Winter.
  16. Conlin, Michael & Lynn, Michael & O'Donoghue, Ted, 2003. "The norm of restaurant tipping," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 52(3), pages 297-321, November.
  17. Ofer H. Azar, 2003. "The implications of tipping for economics and management," Others 0309002, EconWPA.
  18. Lynn, Michael & McCall, Michael, 2000. "Gratitude and gratuity: a meta-analysis of research on the service-tipping relationship," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 29(2), pages 203-214.
  19. Elster, Jon, 1989. "Social Norms and Economic Theory," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 99-117, Fall.
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Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. Tipping Waiters Makes Us Happy So It Will Never Be Banished
    by Shaunacy Ferro in Business Insider on 2013-08-01 20:35:00
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. Ofer H. Azar & Yossi Tobol, 2008. "Tipping as a Strategic Investment in Service Quality: An Optimal-Control Analysis of Repeated Interactions in the Service Industry," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 246-260, July.
  2. Azar, Ofer H., 2005. "Incentives and Service Quality in the Restaurant Industry: The Tipping – Service Puzzle," MPRA Paper 4457, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2006.
  3. Parrett, Matt, 2011. "Do people with food service experience tip better?," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 40(5), pages 464-471.
  4. Ofer Azar, 2005. "The Social Norm of Tipping: Does it Improve Social Welfare?," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 85(2), pages 141-173, 08.
  5. Holland, Steven J., 2009. "Tipping as risk sharing," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 641-647, August.
  6. Azar, Ofer H., 2011. "Business strategy and the social norm of tipping," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 515-525, June.
  7. Riener, Gerhard & Traxler, Christian, 2012. "Norms, moods, and free lunch: Longitudinal evidence on payments from a Pay-What-You-Want restaurant," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 41(4), pages 476-483.
  8. Azar, Ofer H., 2006. "Tipping, firm strategy, and industrial organization," MPRA Paper 4485, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Saunders, Stephen G. & Lynn, Michael, 2010. "Why tip? An empirical test of motivations for tipping car guards," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 31(1), pages 106-113, February.
  10. Greenberg, Adam Eric, 2014. "On the complementarity of prosocial norms: The case of restaurant tipping during the holidays," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 97(C), pages 103-112.
  11. Sari, Nazmi, 2013. "On anti-smoking regulations and tobacco consumption," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 60-67.
  12. Ofer H. Azar, 2003. "The implications of tipping for economics and management," Others 0309002, EconWPA.
  13. Azar, Ofer H., 2009. "Tipping motivations and behavior in the US and Israel," MPRA Paper 20304, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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