The Norm of Restaurant Tipping
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Conlin, Michael; Lynn, Michael; O’Donoghue, Ted
Using survey data, we identify a variety of factors that influence tipping behavior and in the process lay out a simple theoretical framework to help to interpret our empirical observations. We first investigate the efficiency of observed tipping behavior. While there are elements of efficiency — notably, percent tip depends on service quality — it does not appear fully efficient. We then posit a model in which customers trade off material well-being against disutility from not adhering to the norm, and we use this model to reinterpret initial empirical findings and make additional empirical predictions.
fairness; gift giving; reciprocity; social norm
Required Publisher Statement: © Elsevier. Final version published as: Conlin, M., Lynn, M., & O’Donoghue, T. (2003). The norm of restaurant tipping. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 52(3), 297-321. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.