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One of our listeners wrote to ask why Americans are addicted to tipping and just can not seem to stop smoking. This is a subject that is close to our hearts: does not it seem that we are falling everywhere these days? This is also an excellent issue of behavioral economics. Tipping is one of those conventions that defies both common sense (why do we tip some services and not others?) And the rules of the economy (why do most people prefer restaurants that do not include fixed service charges in their prices?). We asked Michael Lynn, professor of consumer behavior and marketing at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, a little help. It may be that the tip is a kind of social folly for which there is no known cure.
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