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Tipping is an interesting, pervasive, and under researched form of consumer behavior. Tips are supposed to be an incentive/reward for good service. However, tipping is a complex behavior motivated by the desires to conform with social norms, compensate for poor service wages, display power/status, avoid the servers’ envy and ill will, and express interpersonal attraction. It is possible that these other motives for tipping undermine its role as an incentive/reward. This possibility was examined in two original studies of restaurant tipping. The studies found that tipping is related to consumers’ evaluations of service and the dining experience, but that these relationships are weak. This result suggests that tipping is, in part, a reward for good service, but that it may not provide a sufficient incentive for the delivery of good service.


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© SAGE. Final version published as: Lynn, M., & Graves, J. (1996). Tipping: An incentive/reward for service? Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research, 20(1), 1-14. DOI: 10.1177/109634809602000102. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.