The Effect of Generalized Compliments, Sex of Server, and Size of Dining Party on Tipping Behavior in Restaurants


  • 1The authors thank Darren Edwards, Misty Godfrey, Launey Ivers, and Lindsay Meintel for their assistance with data collection.

John S. Seiter, Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Speech Communication, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-0720. E-mail:


This study examined the effects of food servers' sex, the use of generalized compliments, and the size of the dining party on tipping behavior in restaurants. Four food servers (2 males, 2 females) waited on 360 parties eating dinner, and either complimented or did not compliment the parties on their dinner selections. Results indicated that food servers received significantly higher tips when complimenting their parties than when not complimenting them, although as the size of the party increased, the effectiveness of compliments decreased. These results and their implications are discussed.