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Leaving monetary tips for servers is a commonplace occurrence in the United States. Tipping research has proposed that consumers tip to serve a variety of motives such as to ensure good service on future patronage, supplement servers’ wages, and comply with social norms. Meanwhile, research on environmental factors that affect tipping behavior, such as method of bill payment, have yielded mixed findings. The advancement of technology has increased the use of screen-based payment methods that feature options with differing suggested tip amounts. This technology may pressure consumers into leaving larger tips or start tipping in situations where they previously would not. Using a computer-based study, we simulated limited-service experiences where customers have short interactions with their servers (e.g., ordering a cup of coffee to-go at a coffee shop). We studied how the availability of screen-based payment methods affected consumer feelings about establishments and tip amounts. Results indicated that, in our simulated coffee shop scenario, people feel negatively about screen-based payment methods and may avoid limited-service establishments that use them, but they did not leave larger tips when compared to other payment methods. Moreover, people did not tip more when a server was visible (versus absent) and empathy did not moderate this effect. Together, these findings suggest that people tip to comply with social norms in limited-service environments even if they may feel negatively about the consumer experience.


consumer behavior payment methods social norms tipping

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How to Cite
Goh, F. W., Jungck, A. C., & Stevens, J. R. (2021). Pro tip: Screen-based payment methods increase negative feelings in consumers but do not increase tip sizes. European Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 4(4), 1–21.