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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. 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.
    2. Azar, Ofer H., 2011. "Business strategy and the social norm of tipping," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 32(3), pages 515-525, June.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
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    8. 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.
    9. 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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    21. 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.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Bharat Chandar & Uri Gneezy & John A. List & Ian Muir, 2019. "The Drivers of Social Preferences: Evidence from a Nationwide Tipping Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 26380, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    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.
    3. Bharat K. Chandar & Ali Hortaçsu & John A. List & Ian Muir & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2019. "Design and Analysis of Cluster-Randomized Field Experiments in Panel Data Settings," NBER Working Papers 26389, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Elif Aydin, Asli & Acun, Yüksel, 2019. "An investigation of tipping behavior as a major component in service economy: The case of taxi tipping," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 78(C), pages 114-120.
    5. Ofer H. Azar, 2020. "The Economics of Tipping," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 215-236, Spring.
    6. Frank, David G. & Lynn, Michael, 2020. "Shattering the Illusion of the Self-Earned Tip: The Effect of a Restaurant Magician on Co-Workers’ Tips," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 87(C).
    7. Lynn, Michael, 2018. "How motivations for tipping vary with occupational differences in descriptive tipping norms," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 1-10.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Service gratuities; Social norms; Consumer behavior;
    All these keywords.

    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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