Tipping depends on personality

December 10, 1999

To tip or not to tip - it is a question that often baffles and embarrasses the international traveller abroad. A new study, however, has found there are strong cultural clues that could guide the uninitiated to make a more informed decision as to the right moment to dip into their pockets and pay a little extra.

Michael Lynn, an associate professor of consumer behaviour at Cornell University, in the United States, has found that tipping is more common in those countries where the people are more outgoing and anxious.

His research, published in the latest issue of the journal Personality and Individual Differences, links tipping customs recorded by researcher Nancy Star and average personality traits calculated by psychologists in 1995, across 21 countries.

Britons emerge as mid-rankers, tipping 23 professions out of 33 studied, and fairly average in personality rankings on extroversion, neuroticism and psychoticism. Predictably, tipping is most prevalent in the US, while in Iceland the custom barely exists.

"Tipping is a way to express satisfaction, encourage attentive treatment and show off, which appeals to the most extrovert people. Also, the more neurotic a person is, the more anxious they are about being served," said Dr Lynn.

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