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Service gratuities and tipping: A motivational framework

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  • Lynn, Michael

Abstract

In many countries around the world, consumers leave voluntary payments of money (called “tips”) to service workers who have served them. Since tips are an expense that consumers are free to avoid, tipping is an anomalous behavior that many economists regard as “irrational” or “mysterious”. In this paper, I present a motivational framework that offers plausible explanations for: (1) why people tip, (2) how tipping norms came into existence and evolve over time, (3) why tipping varies across individuals and situations, (4) why tipping is more common for some occupations than others, and (5) why tipping varies across nations. Many hypotheses generated from this framework are supported by existing research, but many other implications of the framework have yet to be adequately tested. Thus, the framework provides a promising and much needed theoretical guide for future research on a fascinating consumer behavior.

Suggested Citation

  • Lynn, Michael, 2015. "Service gratuities and tipping: A motivational framework," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 74-88.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:46:y:2015:i:c:p:74-88
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2014.12.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Lynn, Michael, 2016. "Why are we more likely to tip some service occupations than others? Theory, evidence, and implications," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 54(C), pages 134-150.
    2. Lynn, Michael, 2016. "Motivations for tipping: How they differ across more and less frequently tipped services," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 65(C), pages 38-48.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Service gratuities; Social norms; Consumer behavior;

    JEL classification:

    • A13 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Relation of Economics to Social Values
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • L8 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services
    • O5 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economywide Country Studies
    • Z1 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics

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