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On the complementarity of prosocial norms: The case of restaurant tipping during the holidays

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  • Greenberg, Adam Eric

Abstract

The literature in economics overwhelmingly supports the hypothesis that people have (pure and impure) preferences for altruism. It has also been shown that prosocial acts or norms that dictate prosocial behavior can sometimes crowd out other prosocial behaviors. This paper tests whether a well-understood prosocial norm—generosity during the holiday season (i.e., around Christmas)—crowds out or complements tipping behavior, another prosocial norm. By examining seasonal differences in within-customer tipping behavior using two years of sales data from a busy restaurant, I find that during the holiday season tipping rates are higher, not lower. This effect appears to be driven by those who are already generous. The finding suggests that individuals do not necessarily view two prosocial norms as competing; rather, such norms can be complementary. Motives for prosocial norms like tipping are discussed.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jeborg:v:97:y:2014:i:c:p:103-112
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jebo.2013.10.014
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    14. Ofer H. Azar, 2007. "Do people tip strategically, to improve future service? Theory and evidence," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 40(2), pages 515-527, May.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Claudia Schwirplies & Andreas Ziegler, 2015. "Offset carbon emissions or pay a price premium for avoiding them? A cross-country analysis of motives for climate protection activities," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201504, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).
    2. repec:eee:joepsy:v:64:y:2018:i:c:p:57-72 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Ek, Claes, 2015. "Prosocial Behavior and Policy Spillovers: A Multi-Activity Approach," Working Papers 2015:26, Lund University, Department of Economics, revised 11 Sep 2017.
    4. Azar, Ofer H. & Yosef, Shira & Bar-Eli, Michael, 2015. "Restaurant tipping in a field experiment: How do customers tip when they receive too much change?," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 50(C), pages 13-21.
    5. Laura Birg & Anna Goeddeke, 2016. "Christmas Economics—A Sleigh Ride," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 54(4), pages 1980-1984, October.
    6. Lange, Andreas & Schwirplies, Claudia & Ziegler, Andreas, 2017. "On the interrelation between the consumption of impure public goods and the provision of direct donations: Theory and empirical evidence," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(C), pages 72-88.
    7. Amir B. Ferreira Neto & Adam Nowak & Amanda Ross, 2017. "Do tourists tip more than local consumers? Evidence of taxi rides in New York City," Working Papers 17-14, Department of Economics, West Virginia University.
    8. Andreas Lange & Claudia Schwirplies & Andreas Ziegler, 2014. "On the interrelation between carbon offsetting and other voluntary climate protection activities: Theory and empirical evidence," MAGKS Papers on Economics 201447, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Faculty of Business Administration and Economics, Department of Economics (Volkswirtschaftliche Abteilung).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Social norms; Prosocial; Altruism; Tipping; Holidays; Christmas;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • D6 - Microeconomics - - Welfare Economics
    • Q11 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Agriculture - - - Aggregate Supply and Demand Analysis; Prices
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General

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