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Substantial media echo on FiRe researcher's study

posted Aug 17, 2017, 2:33 AM by Stefan Palan
A new paper by FiRe researcher Stefan Palan, co-authored with Michael Kirchler from the University of Innsbruck, 
has been accepted at Experimental Economics. Titled "Immaterial and Monetary Gifts in Economic Transactions. Evidence from the Field.", the paper explores the effect of complimenting or tipping the salesperson in a fast-food restaurant on the amount of ice cream or the weight of durum doner provided. The twist about the design is that the authors give the compliment or tip prior to the product's preparation.

The study finds that giving a compliment results in about 10% more ice cream in the cone, and tipping (about 10%) results in about 17% more ice cream. In the picture to the right, the left-hand cone was ordered normally, while the right-hand cone resulted from ordering and adding the sentence "You have the best ice cream in town".

In the case of the durum doner, the effects are not as strong (it is harder to pack more ingredients into a fixed-size bread), but in the compliment treatment, they increase over time. When expeirmenters visit the same salesperson five days in a row, doner weight increases by 7% (23g) relative to the baseline when the experimenters compliment, while it stays relatively constant at 4% (17g) higher than in the baseline when they tip.

There has also been significant media reaction to the publication. A selection (see the full list on Stefan Palan's website):
Die Presse (German)
Handelsblatt (German)
Kronen Zeitung (German)
Der Standard (German)

See the published version (open access) for further information.