Few things unite a group of people quite like food does. It truly is a universal language that every single person on the face of the planet understands. There is nothing more that I enjoy than going out to eat at my favorite restaurant. While tipping is usually more stressful and confusing than eating a delicious burger, seeing a few pieces of candy tucked inside the folio of where my check rests made it all worth the complicated tip calculations. Additionally, if there was a jar of mints on my way out of a restaurant I would grab a handful no matter how full I was. During my high school years, I worked as a server at a restaurant in my home state of Florida. I always wondered if there was something I could do to receive a larger tip. Could handing out mints and candy with the check mean a bigger tip for waiters and waitresses?
In this case, the null hypothesis would be that handing out candy and mints with the check does nothing, meaning that it does not increase the tip percentage in anyway. The alternative hypothesis would be that the mints and candy actually lead to bigger tips. Scientists can choose to either accept or reject the null hypothesis. Personally, I feel like waiters and waitresses will earn bigger tips if they give better service to their customers by checking in on them often and smiling frequently. Although getting a few pieces of candy is nice, it is hard for me to believe that it solely leads to bigger tips.
A study conducted in 2002 by the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration tried to figure out if handing out candy to customers increased tips. The study was conducted in a small restaurant with a capacity of just 66 people. It was conducted over two weekday and two weekend dinner services. The participants of the study were 92 groups of diners that dined at the restaurant during the duration of the study. Following the meal, the researchers asked the waiters to select a card that was sitting on the table face down. If the card was red, the waiter/waitress was instructed to include a few pieces of candy with the check. If the card was black, they gave the check without including the candy. This study was a randomized control trial because the participants were randomly allocated to either the treatment ground or the control group. Additionally, this was an experimental study because the x-variable, the candy, was manipulated.
Since there were 92 participants in this study, 46 participants received a check with mints and the other 46 participants received a check without mints. The results showed that the average tip for people who received the candy was 17.8% compared to an average tip of 15.1% without candy. The p-values for this study was .0001, meaning that the difference between the two groups could not be attributed to chance alone.
The results proved my hypothesis was wrong. Candy and mints do in fact increase tip percentage on average. Based on the results, scientists can reject the null hypothesis. However, there could be some confounding variables in this study. Since service is not something that is easily measured, it is safe to say that the patrons perception of “good” service varied. Maybe the participants tipped more because they felt that they got better service rather than the candy. Another interesting thing that jumped to mind was what if the customers did not eat the candy, would they still tip more? It would also be interesting if future studies achieved the same result.
Strohmetz, David B., Bruce Rind, Reed Fisher, and Michael Lynn. “Sweetening the Till: The Use of Candy to Increase Restaurant Tipping1.” Journal of Applied Social Psychology 32.2 (2002): 300-09. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.
Ciotti, Gregory. “The Psychology of Personalization: How Waiters Increased Tips by 23 Percent (Without Changing Service).” Help Scout Blog. N.p., 03 Apr. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2016.