Effects of Touch on Gratuities Received in Same-Gender and Cross-Gender Dyads1


  • 1

    This study originated as a class project in a nonverbal communication course. An earlier version of this paper was presented in the Interpersonal Division at the annual meeting of the Western States Communication Association in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, February 2001.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Amy S. Ebesu Hubbard, Department of Speech, University of Hawaii at Manoa, George Hall 333, 2560 Campus Road, Honolulu, HI 96822. E-mail: aebesu@hawaii.edu


This study examined whether or not a nonreciprocal brief shoulder touch would increase gratuities received by servers. Data from 400 patrons were collected by 4 servers who enacted the touch manipulation while working in 2 separate eating establishments. The findings revealed that servers who touched their patrons did receive larger gratuities than servers who did not touch their patrons. Further, in one setting, servers received larger tips from patrons who were of the opposite gender than from patrons who were of the same gender. These results support the ubiquitous influence of a fleeting touch on gratuities, and the possibility that, in certain situations, touch may be more advantageous when done by members of the opposite gender.