Study Findings on Restaurant Tipping Revealed

Photo by Jay Wennington on Unsplash

( – The International Journal of Hospitality Management has published the results of a recent study that has found that the addition of a printed smile on a restaurant check could cause the patrons to leave a larger tip. 

According to Nexstar, Murray State University in Kentucky associate professor of marketing and co-author of the study Sarah Lefebvre (Ph.D.) stated that as part of the study, they hypothesized that an emoji smiley face could potentially lead to a positive reaction.

In the study, co-authors Lefebvre, Laura Boman, Ph.D., and Marissa Orlowski examined three different situations to determine tipping patterns. These included online ordering and on-site dining. In both of these cases, when the bill was handed over, the subjects were encouraged to choose from different gratuities with different emojis printed on each bill amount. The lowest gratuity had within it a neutral emoji while higher amounts were paired with emojis that appeared to be happier. 

Lefebvre said it is common for restaurants to suggest different tipping amounts and even add next to the suggestion’s verbal prompts such as “good,” or “great.” In some cases, servers will also put a smiley face on the bill before handing it over. 

While these methods often appear to be effective, they can at times cause customers to be irritated. However, previous research has also shown that the human brain tends to have a more positive reaction to an actual smiling face. 

According to the study, when the emoji was next to the suggested tipping amount, the average tipping was at 11 percent or more. This could potentially allow restaurant operators to maximize how much they make from tips, according to Lefebvre.

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