Tipping your waiter may be in your genes
It's not just social pressure that makes people tip at restaurants but also human nature, a study suggests.
July 27th, 2011
08:29 AM ET

Tipping your waiter may be in your genes

Generosity may be evolutionary.

That's the finding of a team of scientists at the University of California, Santa Barbara, who used a series of computer simulations to test whether it is true that humans have become more naturally generous over time, and whether people would commit acts of generosity in situations where there is no foreseeable personal gain.

Their findings, published in the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that generosity is built into human nature and isn't solely a result of social pressure.

"Our simulations explain that the reason people are more generous than economic and biological theory would predict is due to the inherent uncertainty of social life," the paper's co-author Andrew Delton,  a postdoctoral scholar at the university's Center for Evolutionary Psychology, said in a statement.

"Specifically, you can never know for certain whether an interaction you are having right now will be one-time only, like interacting with a server in a distant city," he said. "Or continue on indefinitely, like interacting with a server at your favorite hometown diner."

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Filed under: Science
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Scottish Mama

    I hope this was not a government funded study. If it is let's cut it.

    July 27, 2011 at 8:34 am | Report abuse |
  2. Mmmmm

    Caveman Speaker Boehner and the republicans need genetic corrective therapy...

    July 27, 2011 at 8:48 am | Report abuse |
    • Scottish Mama


      July 27, 2011 at 10:02 am | Report abuse |
  3. myVitalNote

    My generosity was a learned behavior, I do the very opposite of what I observed my parents doing.

    July 27, 2011 at 9:26 am | Report abuse |
  4. H Allen Johnson

    Hmmm...our tax dollars at work? Seriously I couldn't pay someone to come up with more outlandish things...oh wait yes I do, they sit in Washington DC and probably funded this "research"!!!!

    July 27, 2011 at 9:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. banasy

    This is the stupidest thing I've ever seen!

    July 27, 2011 at 9:55 am | Report abuse |
  6. Just a thought

    I don't tip waiters. I walk back to the kitchen and tip the ones with the real skill.

    July 27, 2011 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  7. banasy

    @Just A Thought:

    Then while you're back there you can pick up your own food.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      Hey...I'd rather pick up my own food than be expected to tip someone for doing it for me. If those waiters and waitresses want to make more money, they should complain to their bosses, who expect us customers to chip in because they don't want the employee's standard of what and hourly wage should be to rise, costing the business money in the long term. Its either that, or they can be happy they make anything at all for doing a job thats pretty simple, besides having to carry things back and forth all the time it gets busy (but then again, isn't that why all the scheduled waiters/waitresses work to cover specific sections?). If someone wants to claim that job is hard, they should probably be happy they were able to qualify to work anywhere at all in the first place. Otherwise, they should think about logging on to education connection hahaha

      July 27, 2011 at 10:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      It should be an*, not and.

      July 27, 2011 at 10:19 am | Report abuse |
    • joeNYC

      @sarah – whatever you do for a living, I can only hope that people have a way to bypass you to avoid having to pay you.

      July 27, 2011 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
    • poor

      @ Sarah -Waiters and waitress' do not make minimum wage. Tips are for making up the difference. I tip 20% of my bill. You sound cheap. I heard Wealthy are the worst tippers.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Huh?

      @Sarah: The pay for a server is $2.65/hr+tips in Mi. Many restaurants don't really make much on food (that pays the bills). They make most of their money on drinks and desserts. If you'd like to abolish tipping then you can expect to pay at least 1/3 more per plate. It's understandable that people feel upset about being obligated to pay someone's wage. They have begun imposing mandatory gratuity, because some people don't tip even when the server is good. It's a tough call. I'm a good tipper though. 20% if everything is good (or not the server's fault if something is bad).. I deduct for bad service though. At the end of the day when I go out I plan on spending money, so if I can't afford the $3-5 for gratuity then I should stay home. I remember I got $0.01 on a $89.99 bill after perfect service and it just irritates you. I try to be better than the other people out there.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rhapsody

    Oh, jeez, it was a bloody joke! Of course you're a cheapskate, Sarah!
    Of course you haven't a clue what you're talking about, either, it's plain you've never been in the service industry. And of course you'd be one of the morons who enjoy giving the service people a hard time just so you can feel superior in all your higher educational glory. And of course, if I was waiting on you, I'd spit in your food.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
    • joeNYC

      In the old days when I used to wait tables, spitting in Sarah's food would have been a given. Or worse... and there is always worse things the wait staff can do.

      July 27, 2011 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
  9. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Sarah:
    You cannot be aware that in some restaurants waiters pay the restaurant for their tables.
    Waiters offer a professional service and play an important role in the dining experience.
    They often deserve large tips, and I always give it when I've had a pleasant experience.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:52 am | Report abuse |
  10. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Even if the service was poor, I leave 15% anyway.
    A waiter would have to slug me to deserve no tip at all.
    If you can't afford to tip, bring a sandwich from home and eat it in the park. Be sure to put your trash into a waste basket.

    July 27, 2011 at 10:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. Mr SandyK

    @Joey that is good! thanks for the laugh my brother

    July 27, 2011 at 11:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. joeNYC

    In my younger days, I used to wash dishes and wait tables. And even though it's been more than 25 years, I still remember the hard work. So I tip well, remembering how much I appreciated it myself.

    July 27, 2011 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. Mr SandyK

    I have never waited tables, my personality is a little overwhelming hahaha, but never would I discount the the service provided. my daughter waitress while in college, some of the stories made me shake my head in wonder.

    July 27, 2011 at 11:33 am | Report abuse |
  14. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Mr. Sandyk, brother,
    Hello. I see you're doing well.
    I had some canceled work today, so it's a little more relaxed.
    Good to see you.

    July 27, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  15. CSnSC

    Sarah, you are an ignorant ass. Bet you've eaten a few snot burgers in your time.

    July 27, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
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