This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

What's in a Tip? An Exploratory Study of the Motivations Driving Consumer Tipping Behavior




Whaley, Jeremy

Type of Degree



Nutrition and Food Science


According to Segrave (1998), since the late 1800‘s, the study of tipping has provoked debate in a range of abstract dimensions such as economics, sociology, and psychology. To date, the studies have been largely qualitative in nature, while addressing motivating themes (service, social norm, and future service considerations) in isolation from one another. Following a thorough examination of the literature, there is a definite lack of research on the development and testing of a more holistic quantitative scale aimed at identifying the motivational Gestalt driving actual consumer tipping behavior. Therein lies the major theoretical contribution of this study, namely the development and testing of a Tipping Motivations Scale, which over three separate tests, identifies a number of drivers of consumer tipping motivation. In this study exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted to test the empirical dimensions of consumer tipping motivations. The results obtained indicate a reasonable fit between the data and the proposed model across both analyses. As indicated, this was repeated on three separate occasions and the results largely remained consistent. The findings point to the key role of service in driving the consumer‘s decision to tip. Other important factors included social conformity, the issue of future visitation, and server actions. It is concluded that future research is needed to explore whether these dimensions remain constant among other sample groups and across different tipped professions.