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Study finds uplifting music prompts more restaurant tips

New research has found that customers are more likely to tip restaurant staff when they hear uplifting music.

The study by the University of Innsbruck also found that sad music prompted customers to leave slightly larger tips than “neutral” music. The university named The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby as one of the more downbeat tracks that it found provoked a higher tip. The university said that Abba’s Dancing Queen and Billy Joel’s Uptown Girl provoked the biggest tippers.

Tables of two who each paid £88 between them were observed for the study which found those listening to upbeat music left £3.52 more than those who heard “neutral” and downbeat tracks. Researchers said that music had a greater effect on older diners, with this said to be due to a lower exposure to music than younger diners.

Annika Beer, a psychologist who co-authored the study, said: “Uplifting music makes people happy and the better mood someone is in, the more they tend to tip. Melancholic music, however, nurtures the people’s helping behaviour. The manipulated customers want to help the waiter or waitress with higher tips than usual.

On the subject of older diners tipping more, Beer added: “Of course, it is also possible that they just don’t have the financial freedom to tip as much as older people.”

As many as 277 diners at an upmarket restaurant at an Innsbruck ski resort were studied during the research, where it was found that the average tip was 10% of the meal cost at £8.80. The researchers tried to avoid well-known music during the study however they said that Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black was among the top tipping tracks.

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