Race Differences in Tipping: Testing the Role of Norm Familiarity
On average, Blacks tip less than whites in the United States. As a result, many servers dislike waiting on black tables and deliver inferior service to those Blacks seated in their sections. Furthermore, this race difference makes it difficult to attract and retain waitstaff in predominately black neighborhoods, which makes such neighborhoods less attractive places for corporations to locate full-service restaurants. To solve these problems, race differences in tipping need to be sizably reduced (if not eliminated). In a 2004 Cornell Hotel and Administration Quarterly article, Michael Lynn suggested that race differences in tipping were caused by race differences in awareness of tipping norms, so that reducing the latter would also reduce the former. This argument makes two assumptions that Lynn never tested; namely that norm awareness mediates race differences in tipping and that race does not moderate the effects of norm awareness on tipping. This paper presents a study that tests and supports both of these assumptions. The results suggest that race differences in tipping can be sizably reduced (though not eliminated) by educating Blacks about appropriate tipping norms, so restaurant managers as well as major industry organizations are encouraged to engage in such educational campaigns.
tipping; race differences; social norms
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