Can a Joke on a Card Increase Tips?

If you are a waitperson you probably are concerned about the tips that you
receive from customers.  The tips you receive may greatly help you pay the
bills.   Your earnings from the job may seem much more reasonable with the
tips you receive.  Is there a way to increase tips?   One simple way may be to
leave a joke on a card with the bill.   

    Gueguen (2002) conducted a study that involved tipping at a bar.  Each
person in the study was randomly assigned to one of three conditions.  In the
advertisement card condition, the customers received an advertisement on a
card with their coffee and bill.  In the joke card condition, the customers
rcceived a joke on a card with their coffee and bill.   In the control condition,
the customers did not receive a card.

   Gueguen found that a higher percentage of customers gave a tip in the joke
card condition than in the other two conditions.  In contrast, the difference
between the advertisement card condition and the control condition with
respect to the percentage of people tipping was not statistically significant.

   These findings clearly indicate that humor may increase tips.  Providing a
joke on a card with the bill may be a simple way to increase tips.

   One possible explanation of the effect of humor on tipping is that it reflects
the reciprocity principle.  The reciprocity principle suggests that we should
help someone who helps us.  Providing a joke on a card can be viewed as
helping the customer.  It may make the person more happy and cheerful.  The
customer may wish to reciprocate the expression of kindess by providing a tip.


Gueguen, N.  (2002).  The effects of a joke on tipping when it is delivered at
the same time as
the bill.  
Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 32, 1955-1963.