February 13, 2013
Study Suggests Churchgoing Christians Are Good (Not Bad) Tippers
Ed Stetzer lends his 'facts are our friends' perspective to the Applebee's pastor tip debate.
This month's Internet furor over a St. Louis pastor's apparent unwillingness to tip a waitress at Applebee's quickly outgrew the facts of the matter. But it certainly struck a chord, with many asking, "Why are Christians such bad tippers?"
Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research, decided to search for statistics. "Why does this stereotype exist? Because, in large part, many servers think it is true. Many Christians do as well," he wrote on his blog. "But, what does the research say?"
Stetzer points to "the only study of which I am aware" that addresses the question. Published last year in the Journal of Applied Psychology, researchers Michael Lynn of Cornell University's School of Hotel Administration and Benjamin Katz of HCD Research surveyed 1,600 U.S. adults and found the following:
1) Jews and "those with no religion" tip more (on average) than Christians or members of other religions.
2) The vast majority of Christians tip the "normative" 15 percent or more of the bill total, while only 13 percent of Christians tip less than the norm. (Average was 17.3 percent for good service.)
3) Christians that attend church more frequently change their tipping percentage less based on service quality than those that attend church less frequently.
The caveat: The study examined self-reported behavior, not actual behavior.
CT previously featured Stetzer's thoughts on curing stats abuse by Christians, which noted "how the statistics we most love to repeat may be leading us to make bad choices about the church." Also, CT's sister publication Books & Culture has examined evangelicals behaving badly with statistics.