June 3, 1996 in Nation/World

Waiters Tip Hats To Sunny Weather Gratuities Increase, Even If Waiters Are Lying

Anthony R. Wood Philadelphia Inquirer
 

The same sun that melts glaciers evidently has an even greater power: It can soften the hearts of tippers.

A study at a casino hotel in Atlantic City, N.J., found that, on sunny days, tipping increased by as much as 60 percent compared with rainy days, according to Philadelphia’s Temple University psychologist Bruce Rind.

In fact, Rind found, tips went up even when people thought it was sunny.

Certifiably unscientific evidence uncovered last week affirmed that Rind may be on to something.

For example, John Mulhall wasn’t exactly awed by the 60 percent jump reported in the study. “I’d say it shoots up even more here,” said Mulhall, bar manager at Noah’s, a restaurant with large windows and a deck bar that sits atop a barge on the Schuylkill River in Conshohocken, Pa.

By a 10-1 ratio, waitresses at Philadelphia’s Mayfair Diner - where large windows front Frankford Avenue - concurred that more sun means more tips.

At Downey’s, bartender Gina Lombardo and manager Maria Vitale emphatically agreed with the Mayfair waitresses.

Mulhall has his own explanation of how sunshine affects human generosity. “People tend to think they’re having a better time,” he said. “People just see that sun, they get in a good mood and they start throwing the money.”

Mulhall’s logic sounds uncannily like that of a psychologist at Elmhurst College in Illinois.

“Sunshine could increase mood by stimulating thoughts of swimming, picnics and other outings,” he wrote in a 1979 study on tipping.

Rind’s experiments, the results of which were published recently in the Journal of Applied Psychology, were conducted in a highly unusual laboratory - an Atlantic City casino hotel with tinted windows that give few clues to the weather.

That was where one of Rind’s students, who became his on-site researcher, worked at room service three mornings a week.

More than 450 guests were involved in the surveys, and almost all expressed a keen interest in the weather when the server entered their rooms, according to the study.

When he told the guests it was raining, his tips averaged 18.84 percent. But when it was sunny, the average jumped to 29.39 percent.

In the second study, the server deliberately deceived some of the guests. Before entering a room, he chose a weather report at random.

Regardless of the actual conditions, when he informed the guests that it was raining, his tips averaged 18.6 percent. When he told them it was sunny, that figure went up to 23.7.

Rind did not identify the student, but it is believed he is not a member of the American Meteorological Society.

Rind said that, in this case, the wages of deceit were minimal. In no instance did a guest confront the server with a comment such as “Hey, you stink as a weatherman” or “You give me another bum weather report and I’ll break your kneecaps.”

“No complaints or other adverse reactions resulted from the server’s use of deception,” Rind said in his paper.

Rind said a decision was made not to inform the guests that the atmospheric wool had been pulled over their eyes for the sake of science.

“Debriefing the deceived guests afterward may have done more harm than good because it may have caused embarrassment,” he said.

“Guests who undertipped would be put in the awkward position of having to discuss this action with the server.”


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