Do pretty waitresses really get higher tips?
Do pretty waitresses get higher tips? Researchers at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration want to know. Why? Because it may affect hiring decisions. The researchers claim in their recent study that evolutionary theory suggests that attractive women should receive higher tips than less attractive women.
To test this theory, the researcher recruited more than 400 restaurant waitresses to complete an online survey, asking them to rate their physical attractiveness, sexiness, age, bra size, hair color, waist size, weight, and average tip percentage.
The findings (or how to increase your tips if you’re a waitress):
1.) Blondes reported receiving larger percentage tips than did waitresses with other hair colors, as expected. However, the blond waitresses in this study did not perceive themselves to be more attractive than the waitresses with other hair colors.
2.) Women with large breasts and/or slender bodies received larger average tips than their counterparts without these characteristics.
3.) Tips increased with age with the largest tips going to women in their thirties.
The author’s analysis:
Perhaps the male restaurant customers were most attracted to the waitresses in their late teens and early twenties as expected, but tipped the waitresses who were in their thirties more than those who were younger because they thought they had a better chance of picking-up the older waitresses. Alternatively, the majority of the male customers in this study, whose average age was probably greater than 35 years old, may have been most attracted to waitresses in their thirties.as men age, they prefer women increasing younger than themselves, but nonetheless prefer increasingly older women in an absolute sense….. Given that the median age in the U.S. is 35 years old and that median age of paying restaurant customers is almost certainly even older,….most of the men is this study may have preferred women in their thirties, which is the age group among waitresses that received the largest tips.
4.) WHR (waist-to-hip ratio) was unrelated to tips in this study. Thick-waisted women were just as likely to get big tips.
Perhaps the effects of WHR on perceptions of physical attractiveness are too small to affect more overt behaviors… Alternatively, the failure to find a WHR effect on tipping may be due to the possibility that the waitresses’ clothing obscured their WHRs to their tipping customers.
The study has several weaknesses. First, it relies on women’s self-reports of their attractiveness, which is always tricky. More importantly, the study didn’t attempt to assess is a waitress’s effectiveness at doing her job. One would think competence and friendliness would would be stronger factors. (Which is most important — competence, friendliness, or looks? Fodder for another study?) Nor did it take into account other variables: venue, uniforms, and customer base. Did the study consider the fact that many customers may be (straight) women?
I, for one, don’t care if my waitress has big breasts or blond hair. I just want my food.