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Why are we more likely to tip some service occupations than others? Theory, evidence, and implications

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  • Lynn, Michael

Abstract

Ideas about why consumers tip some service occupations more often than others are tested using occupation scores derived from online ratings of 122 service occupations. Results indicate that U.S. consumers are more likely to tip occupations for which (i) workers’ performances can be more easily evaluated by consumers than by managers, (ii) workers provide customized service, (iii) workers’ income, skill and needed judgment are low, and (iv) workers are less happy than customers during the service encounter. Occupations with greater frequency of customer patronage and/or greater likelihood of encountering the same service provider on multiple service occasions are not more likely than other occupations to be tipped. These findings support some and disconfirm other expectations derived from a theory that occupational differences in tipping are attributable to occupation characteristics that more strongly/consistently evoke motives for tipping. They also identify types of services for which counter-normative tipping policies are more or less likely to be successful and suggest sources of resistance that must be overcome if those policies are to succeed.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:joepsy:v:54:y:2016:i:c:p:134-150
    DOI: 10.1016/j.joep.2016.04.001
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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.
    2. Ofer Azar, 2005. "Who do we tip and why? An empirical investigation," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(16), pages 1871-1879.
    3. Christoph Engel, 2011. "Dictator games: a meta study," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 14(4), pages 583-610, November.
    4. Lynn, Michael, 2015. "Service gratuities and tipping: A motivational framework," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 74-88.
    5. Ofer H. Azar, 2004. "Optimal Monitoring with External Incentives: The Case of Tipping," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 71(1), pages 170-181, July.
    6. Branas-Garza, Pablo, 2006. "Poverty in dictator games: Awakening solidarity," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 60(3), pages 306-320, July.
    7. 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.
    8. Azar, Ofer H., 2011. "Business strategy and the social norm of tipping," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 515-525, June.
    9. Ofer Azar, 2005. "The Social Norm of Tipping: Does it Improve Social Welfare?," Journal of Economics, Springer, vol. 85(2), pages 141-173, August.
    10. 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.
    11. Lynn, Michael & Jabbour, Patrick & Kim, Woo Gon, 2012. "Who uses tips as a reward for service and when? An examination of potential moderators of the service–tipping relationship," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 90-103.
    12. 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.
    13. Jacob, Nancy L & Page, Alfred N, 1980. "Production, Information Costs, and Economic Organization: The Buyer Monitoring Case," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 70(3), pages 476-478, June.
    14. Lynn, Michael & Zinkhan, George M & Harris, Judy, 1993. " Consumer Tipping: A Cross-Country Study," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 20(3), pages 478-488, December.
    15. Natter, Martin & Kaufmann, Katharina, 2015. "Voluntary market payments: Underlying motives, success drivers and success potentials," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 149-157.
    16. 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.
    17. Ofer H. Azar, 2003. "The implications of tipping for economics and management," Others 0309002, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    19. Lynn, Michael, 2015. "Explanations of service gratuities and tipping: Evidence from individual differences in tipping motivations and tendencies," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 65-71.
    20. Lynn, Michael & Starbuck, Mark M., 2015. "Tipping customs: The effects of national differences in attitudes toward tipping and sensitivities to duty and social pressure," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 57(C), pages 158-166.
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    24. John E. Anderson & Örn B. Bodvarsson, 2005. "Tax Evasion on Gratuities," Public Finance Review, , vol. 33(4), pages 466-487, July.
    25. Lynn, Michael & Wang, Shuo, 2013. "The indirect effects of tipping policies on patronage intentions through perceived expensiveness, fairness, and quality," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 62-71.
    26. Frank, Robert H, 1987. "If Homo Economicus Could Choose His Own Utility Function, Would He Want One with a Conscience?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 77(4), pages 593-604, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. 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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