Personal Finance

Explaining U.S. Tipping Practices

There are several places where it's customary to tip service workers, but only five reasons why we engage in this behavior in the first place.

Explaining U.S. Tipping Practices
Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Dessert might be the icing on the cake after a good meal, but it’s usually not your last move. You still have to tip.   

And we don’t tip just after we eat. 

It’s after we get a ride, a haircut, a coffee or a hand with our bags. 

But why do we tip? 

Cornell University professor Michael Lynn has written dozens of papers on tipping. He says there are five reasons we do it: 

To show off... 

To help the server's income...  

To get better service in the future... 

To avoid disapproval from the server... 

And because we feel a sense of duty. 

But it wasn’t always this way.