A tip jar on the counter of Ilan's Coffee House at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. A tip jar on the counter of Ilan's Coffee House at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. A tip jar on the counter of Ilan's Coffee House at Ben Gurion Airport in Israel. (Photo: Benyamin Cohen)

Who gives more tips – men or women?

We dug through studies to find out who is more generous.

One of our editors was walking through Israel's Ben Gurion Airport the other day. He stopped in a coffee shop and saw not one, but two tip jars, one labeled "Men" and one "Women." There was also a sign: "Who is more generous: men or women?"

The experience piqued our curiosity. Which gender tips better? We did some digging to find out.

A 2007 Gallup study found that women tend to favor bigger tips than men. Out of the people surveyed, 41 percent of women preferred tipping big (over 20 percent), as compared with 30 percent of men.

So women tip more. Right?

tippingTipping may have begun in Tudor England, when overnight guests started tipping their hosts' servants. The practice spread to London coffee shops. (Photo: Trudy Wilkerson/Shutterstock)

It's actually not that simple. According to a 1993 cross-cultural study, men tip more than women. Researchers speculate that this could be related to income differences between men and women or "desire to impress waitresses."

And according to other research, "For the typical male and female diners, men will tip better than women for small bills, up to about $27, but after that the women become better tippers."

A lot of factors, it seems, go into play when it comes to tipping. Human decision-making is often surprising, a fact that fascinates behavioral economists like Israeli professor Dan Ariely, who studies the irrationality of human decision-making. American author Michael Lewis is even writing a book about two Israeli professors who kicked off the study of why humans make gut decisions.

We wish we had a clearer answer on whether men or women were more generous tippers. But the research we found actually showed us something else: people's decisions are often based on the specific situations they end up in, not who they are, something psychologists have known for years. Do men or women tip more? It might depend on the price of the meal.

People often think who you are — male, female, old, young, nice, mean — determines your decisions, even though a person's situation might have a bigger impact. People tend to think "She yelled at me because she's mean" instead of "She yelled at me because a car alarm kept her up all night, and she didn't get any sleep, so now she's cranky." But either is possible. It's something to remember if you ever find yourself thinking your friends are generous or stingy after only seeing them tip once or twice.

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