Student Research Projects

Touch for Tips: The Relationship between Touching and Tipping in the Service Industry

Student Christina Raab, '17
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Psychology
Course PSY 480: Originia Research Project


Previous researchers have found that restaurant tipping can be influenced by both objective factors (e.g., the bill\'s total) and subjective factors (e.g., social distance). Physical touch is one such subjective factor that has been shown to have an effect on compliance and helping behavior. The current study is a field experiment conducted by servers at a local high-volume family owned restaurant to explore the influence of a simple touch on the arm on tipping behavior. Three female servers were randomly assigned to the touch or no touch condition (control) before each shift began. The servers recorded the gender of the patron, and other situational details (e.g. day of the week). The results for the current study were inconsistent with the results of previous research, demonstrating no effect of gender or touch on tipping. The results suggest touch may not have a significant effect on compliance despite previous research.