Study Reveals Information About Our Uber Tipping Behavior 
Sat, April 10, 2021

Study Reveals Information About Our Uber Tipping Behavior 

Getting around in a more convenient way is the name of the game in terms of transportation. It’s why car services and other transportation methods have sprung up in the past years / Photo by: ferli via 123RF

 

Getting around in a more convenient way is the name of the game in terms of transportation. It’s why car services and other transportation methods have sprung up in the past years. Now, customers benefit from ride-hailing services such as Uber or Lyft, but after all has been said and done and you have been dropped off, do you or do you not tip? And what does our tipping behavior say about us?


A Study on Tipping Behavior 

According to Wired.com, a monthly American magazine bringing content about emerging technologies affecting culture, economy, and politics, new research from the National Bureau of Economic Research wanted to see how much we have tipped our Uber drivers. 

The paper, which was based on “40 million observations of Uber tipping behavior,” revealed that we really don’t tip our rides enough, if at all. They found that only 16 percent of drivers are tipped by customers and that only one percent of riders do tip drivers regularly. That’s pretty sad for a service that relies on the sharing economy, in that people seem to not really want to share much. 

Furthermore, the data has also revealed that the vast majority of riders, all 60 percent of them, did not tip at all. A closer look reveals that male riders are more likely to tip than female riders. Male riders tip 19 percent of the time and therefore “tipped 23 percent more overall” compared to women riders. 

Almost as if out of complacency or perhaps a certain level of comfortability, riders who frequently ride cabs with the help of these apps are even less likely to tip. More specifically, the research found that frequent riders would only tip “nearly a quarter of the time in their first 15 tips, but by ride 275, tipped less than 10 percent of the time.” 

Explaining Tipping Behavior

So, what’s going on here? How do we know what factors to look at to understand these behaviors? The research also delved into the reasons why these are the kinds of behaviors that we were seeing. For instance, riders who drove a little on the reckless side (e.g. hit the breaks too hard or accelerated quickly) would usually get smaller tips. Gender also factors in tipping, as observed by the research, because while male riders tipped more, they usually tipped more to female Uber drivers than male drivers. 

“Women are tipped more than men, and men tip more than women do,” reads the study. “Gender also interacts with age, with men tipping younger women more than they tip any other group." Location also factors in. In a corresponding report by Market Watch, a website providing the latest news on the stock market and the financial world, tipping also happens less for drivers in urban areas than in smaller, rural ones. 

In terms of the quality of the car and how old it is, there doesn’t seem to be much friction because the researchers noticed that cars past 2009 got only one percent more tips than cars from before that year. That’s a small percentage that’s almost negligible. 

Researchers found that only 16 percent of drivers are tipped by customers and that only one percent of riders do tip drivers regularly / Photo by: Steven Frame via 123RF

 

Bharat Chandar, part of the research team, did suggest to look past these different factors as the main reasons why tipping is affected. If anything, they are just circumstances, which means that no one factor entirely negatively affects tipping behavior. 

What about if apps try to prime their customers into spending more by upping the bracket of the tip that can be given? In these apps, customers are typically given a range from which to tip, so why not send a subtle message in there to slightly push customers in the path towards tipping higher? 

That doesn’t work either. According to the research, higher default options for tipping don’t beget higher tips; instead, they “lead to a higher percentage of trips that do not get tipped at all. This result is consonant with the tipping literature that argues social norms drive tipping.” 

Should We Tip? 

Now comes the crucial question: Should we tip at all? Or is the money drivers make on each ride enough for their financial needs? Well, it used to be, until everything changed. Initially, tipping wasn’t really a vital part of the ride-sharing experience. Uber had it pretty easy when it was starting off, striking gold on a new mode of commerce in the world of transportation. 

On top of that, they were also a dominant app in the market, the major player--they could easily sustain their drivers with a big enough pay that having tips would just look like an added bonus. But as more and more companies decided to venture into this business, Uber found itself intimidated by market competitors and adjusted as a result. According to Vox, this was what turned the tipping system into almost a necessity for some riders.

So should we tip? Of course, we should. It’s a ride-sharing app in a sharing economy that relies on each other.

Initially, tipping wasn’t really a vital part of the ride-sharing experience. Uber had it pretty easy when it was starting off, striking gold on a new mode of commerce in the world of transportation / Photo by: ferli via 123RF