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Tipping Motivations and Behavior in the U.S. and Israel


  • Ofer H. Azar

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Business Administration
      Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
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    • The author thanks Yaniv Feldman for his invaluable research assistance. He is also grateful to Uri Ben-Zion, Michel Andre Marechal, two anonymous referees, and participants in the 2007 Asia-Pacific Regional Meeting of the Economic Science Association in Osaka, Japan, and the International Conference on Reciprocity: Theories and Facts in Verbania, Italy, for their helpful comments. Financial support from the Phillipe Monaster Center for Economic Research is gratefully acknowledged.

Ofer H. Azar, Department of Business Administration, Guilford Glazer School of Business and Management, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, P. O. Box 653, Beer Sheva 84105, Israel. E-mail:


Tipping is a multibillion dollar phenomenon and a major source of income for millions of workers. The results of a study conducted in the U.S. and Israel suggest that people tip mainly to show gratitude, conform to the social norm, and because they know that waiters' income depends on tips. Tipping is motivated more by the positive consequences of tipping than by the negative results of not tipping. Patronage frequency and dining alone had no systematic effects on the level of tips or their sensitivity to service quality. Respondents reported tipping much more for excellent service than for poor service, suggesting that tipping can provide significant incentives for high-quality service. A large majority prefers tipping to service charges.