Behaviour Change

PROPAGANDA FOR CHANGE is a project created by the students of Behaviour Change (ps359) and Professor Thomas Hills @thomhills at the Psychology Department of the University of Warwick. This work was supported by funding from Warwick's Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Good choice SIR/MADAM! :)

A large number of people work as food servers in the US but they are not entitled to a minimum wage. As such, they rely heavily on tips to supplement their income. If you are a food server in the US, what are some tricks up your sleeve which you can possibly use to increase your tips?

Strohmetz and Rind (2002) found that if waiters placed a few mints on the plate alongside the bill, it can reliably increase the tip received. This simple gesture utilizes the principle of reciprocity. Regan (1971) argues that when somebody does us a favour, we feel obligated and are therefore more likely to comply with requests from the person doing the favour.

In addition, Cialdini (2001) pointed out that getting people to like us is a powerful weapon used to bring about compliance. Hence, what can a waiter do to get the customer to like him? It seems that one of the simplest ways is to pay the customer compliments. Seiter (2007) explored the role of compliments on tipping behaviour. Seiter (2007) managed to enrol the help of two female communication students (both 22 years old) who worked part time as food servers. The experiment was restricted to tables of two customers each. Both servers were instructed to treat their customers just as they normally would during their regular server duties with one exception- they either compliment or do not compliment the customers’ choice of menu items right after taking their orders. This was done in a random fashion with the help of six pennies in each server’s pocket: three marked with ink and three without a mark. Before she approached a table, the server would remove a penny from her pocket and checked it before returning it to her pocket. If it was marked, the server complimented each of the two guests. Specifically, after the first person in the party presented his or her order, the server said, “You made a good choice!” After the second person ordered, the server said, “You did good [sic], too!” If the penny was not marked, the server gave no compliments.

After both customers left, the server recorded the total amount of the check and the total amount of tips. The dependent variable was tip size as a percentage of the total bill. The subsequent one-way ANOVA analysis indicated significant differences in tipping behaviour between conditions, F(1, 92) = 4.60, p < .05, h2 = .05. Specifically, customers left significantly larger tips (M = 18.94, SD = 6.70) when their server complimented them than when their server did not (M = 16.41, SD = 4.40).

Therefore, it seems that when Mark Twain mentioned ‘‘Everybody likes a
compliment’’, food servers definitely are included as well as they stand to receive more tips from customers.

Cialdini, R. B. (2009). Influence: Science and practice (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Regan, D. T. (1971). Effects of a favour and liking on compliance. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 7,627-639.

Seiter, J. (2007). Ingratiation and gratuity: The effect of complimenting customers on tipping behavior in restaurants. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 37, 478–485.

Strohmetz, D. B., & Rind, B. (2002). Sweetening the till: The use of candy to increase restaurant tipping. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32, 300-309. 

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