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.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

How you can make more money pt1- tips

How you can make more money pt1- tips

Ok so here’s the situation. Two summers ago, I desperately needed money to afford rent for my student house, so I got a job at a local pub, occasionally working on the bar, but mainly waiting on tables. The pay wasn’t great, and after doing some calculations, I realised that even if I worked all summer, I’d still be around £1000 short of what I needed.

Could I have sold some of my stuff? Yes, but my stuff is cool, and I wanted to keep it. Could I have got a second job? Yes, but that would involve more work, and I’m not about that life. Could I use psychological research to subtly manipulate customers into giving me more money in tips? As a psychology student, it would have been wrong for me NOT to do this.

After reading a couple of papers, it became clear that the main finding is people tip more when they like the server. So how to get multiple tables of people to like you? Being attractive helps (Lynn & McCall, 2000), but there are more ways than having good bone structure and a symmetrical face to getting people to quickly like you, and thus give you more money.

I present to you 5 top tips for getting top tips

*disclaimer* You may think some of these tips are morally questionable, and I don’t disagree. But at this point in my life, money>morals was basically my motto.

Tip 1- Introduce yourself 

Telling the customer your name will make them like you more. You stop being “the waitress from Nandos” and start being “Helen”. This makes you appear more friendly and more likeable, which in turn makes the customer more likely to give you better tips. Also if you can find out the customer’s name (they’ll usually give it after you introduce yourself), then use it. People love it when you use their names, there’s a whole chapter on it in How to Win Friends and Influence People (well worth a read).

Tip 2- Find a way to compliment them

Who doesn’t love a compliment? It doesn’t even need to be sincere (Chan & Sengupta, 2010). Complimenting a customer’s coat, sports team, or even meal choice will land you in favour with them and make them like you more. Flattery literally does get you everywhere, because everyone out there is vain in some respect. (Spence, 2012). So throw in a compliment or two. Just don’t be creepy

Tip 3- Be relatable

Find some kind of common link, or, if you can’t find one, make one up (see disclaimer). It can be really trivial as well, such as the customer having the same name as your aunt, or your cousin going to the same university they went to, or your Grandad being from the part of the world as the customer (notice these relations are all slightly too far removed to warrant further questioning, you do not want to get caught lying). Of course honesty works best, because then you can have a genuine conversation on a topic of shared interest. And when you share something in common with someone else, you essentially form an in-group with that person. And people are more generous to people within their in-group (Tajfel, 1974)

Tip 4- Pretend to go the extra mile 

This is another one that is morally questionable, but it works. Essentially, just make things look like more effort than they really are. Don’t use this one all the time, only when opportunity strikes. If a customer makes a trivial request (I don’t want cheese on my pizza), hit them with the line “I’m not sure if we can do that, but I’ll see what I can do”. By saying that, you make it seem like you’re putting in extra effort, that you care about them and what they want. (Tjosvold, Johnson & Johnson, 1981) You will be liked more as a result, just by saying this simple line.

Tip 5- Give them a present 

How many times has a waiter or waitress given you a discount coupon, or a sweet, just before giving you the bill? That my friends, is the principle of reciprocation (Cialdini, 1987). This works on two levels. Firstly, it’s hard not to like someone who’s giving you a free present (have you ever met a Santa Claus hater?). Secondly, by giving the customer something, they feel inclined to give you something in return. The timing of the present (just before the bill is received) is vital, as customers are presented with an opportunity to reciprocate your kind gesture within minutes. By tipping you.

Thanks for reading!


Carnegie, D. (2010). How to win friends and influence people. Simon and Schuster.

Cialdini, R. B. (1987). Influence (Vol. 3). A. Michel.

Chan, E., & Sengupta, J. (2010). Insincere flattery actually works: A dual attitudes perspective. Journal of Marketing Research, 47, 122-133.

Lynn, M., & McCall, M. (2000). Gratitude and gratuity: a meta-analysis of research on the service-tipping relationship. The Journal of Socio-Economics, 29, 203-214.

Spence, D. (2012). Flattery will get you everywhere. BMJ, 345, e6346.

Tajfel, H. (1974). Social identity and intergroup behaviour. Social Science Information/sur les sciences sociales.

Tjosvold, D., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1981). Effect of partner's effort and ability on liking for partner after failure on a cooperative task. The Journal of Psychology, 109,147-152.

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