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Explanations of service gratuities and tipping: Evidence from individual differences in tipping motivations and tendencies

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  • Lynn, Michael

Abstract

Consumers often give service workers gifts of money in the form of tips. Desires to help servers, reward service, buy future service, buy social status/esteem, avoid social sanctions, and fulfill internalized social obligations have all been proposed as possible explanations for this behavior, but surprisingly little research has documented the effects of these desires/motives. Results of an online survey indicate that self-reported individual differences in each of these motives for tipping predict the likelihood of tipping, uncertainty about the general likelihood of tipping, and/or tip sizes among those who tip. Results also indicate that the effects of future-service and duty motives on tipping likelihood vary across service occupations and that duty motives have opposite effects on the likelihood of tipping and on the size of tip left by those who do tip – increasing the former while decreasing the latter. Finally, results indicate that reward, altruistic, and esteem motives for tipping are positively related to attitude toward tipping while avoidance and duty motives for tipping are negatively related to attitude toward tipping. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed along with directions for future research.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:soceco:v:55:y:2015:i:c:p:65-71
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socec.2015.01.002
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Azar Ofer H, 2008. "Strategic Behavior and Social Norms in Tipped Service Industries," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 8(1), pages 1-18, March.
    2. 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.
    3. Regner, Tobias, 2014. "Social preferences? Google Answers!," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 85(C), pages 188-209.
    4. R. Keith Schwer & Rennae Daneshvary, 2000. "Tipping participation and expenditures in beauty salons," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 32(15), pages 2023-2031.
    5. Ofer Azar, 2005. "Who do we tip and why? An empirical investigation," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 37(16), pages 1871-1879.
    6. Bodvarsson, Orn B. & Gibson, William A., 1994. "Gratuities and customer appraisal of service: Evidence from Minesota restaurants," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 287-302.
    7. Angela Y. Lee & Punam Anand Keller & Brian Sternthal, 2010. "Value from Regulatory Construal Fit: The Persuasive Impact of Fit between Consumer Goals and Message Concreteness," Journal of Consumer Research, Oxford University Press, vol. 36(5), pages 735-747, February.
    8. 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.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
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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. repec:eee:jeborg:v:145:y:2018:i:c:p:95-113 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. 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.

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    Keywords

    Tipping; Motivation; Social norms;

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