Last year I went on a rant (in both a blog post and in a sermon) about Christian tipping behavior. Suddenly in this town I've become the center of a conversation about Christian tipping and my behavior is Exhibit A for many people. Since those rants, I can't tell you how many times I've been asked in restaurants by friends and acquaintances about how much I'm tipping. I've had strangers come up to me telling me that they have watched me across the restaurant and walked by my table after I've left to see what kind of tip I left behind.
I don't mind. If you scream at people about something you better back it up. But no worries, for years my minimal tip has always been $3.00 for meals, like a breakfast for one, under $10.00 and $4.00 for meals between $10 and $20. For bills over $20.00 I tip at 20+%. I'm no saint. Just emotionally traumatized from years of working as a server in the restaurant industry....
Well, in the comments to my blog post last year (which really wasn't a rant about tipping but about how Christians replace humanity for religiosity) an anonymous commenter thought that my characterizations about tipping were unfair and suggested that we examine the empirical literature to see, empirically, if Christians are poor tippers. Interestingly, there is a nice little literature on tipping behavior in economic and psychology journals.
For example, surf on over to the BPS Research Digest blog (H/T Daily Dish) and read about some recent research done by Stephen Saunders and Michael Lynn on the motivations behind tipping. Why do we tip? From the article:
One explanation for why we tip is that we're trying to encourage good service in the future. However, Saunders and Lynn found no evidence that people who used a car guard more were more likely to tip, as you'd expect if this were their true motive. By contrast, perceived service quality was associated with both the likelihood of giving a tip and the amount tipped, thus suggesting that participants were using tipping as a form of reward. Similarly, those who said they thought it was important to help others in need tended to tip more (although they weren't any more likely to tip), suggesting altruism was another motive. Finally, social norms were a key factor - participants who said their friends and relatives thought it was important to tip were more likely to tip themselves...As best I can tell, looking through some abstracts, there hasn't been a study published examining if Christians--particularly during Sunday lunch--are worse tippers than non-Christians. I've actually kicked around ideas about how to do this myself.