The Psychology of Restaurant Tipping1


  • 1

    These studies were conducted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the advanced degree awarded to the first author. The studies were supported by a National Science Foundation grant BNS76–19629 to Bibb Latané. Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the April 1982 meeting of the Eastern Psychological Association in Baltimore, Maryland and at the May 1982 International Conference on Prosocial Behavior in Nags Head, North Carolina. Request reprints from Michael Lynn, Department of Psychology, The Ohio State University, 404-C, W. 17th Avenue, Columbus, OH 43210.


Since its origins in 18th-century English pubs, tipping has become a custom involving numerous professions and billions of dollars. Knowledge of the psychological factors underlying tipping would benefit service workers, service managers, and customers alike. Two studies were conducted to provide such knowledge about restaurant tipping. The percent tipped in these studies was related to group size, the customer's gender, the method of payment (cash or credit), and in some cases, the size of the bill. Tipping was not related to service quality, waitperson's efforts, waitperson's gender, restaurant's atmosphere, or restaurant's food.