How do physical cues, shapes, impact your brain? It appears they do have an impact, even the shape of a tip bowl! As you probably already know, tipping is not expected in France because the bill includes a service change. Researcher Nicolas Guéguen of the Université de Bretagne Sud in France conducted an experiment to determine if the shape of a tip bowl (round, square, or heart-shaped) would impact whether or not customers left a tip. The study found that 26.2% of customers left tips when the tip dish was square; 31.2% when the tip dish was round; and 46.3% when the dish was heart-shaped. The study findings suggest that a simple physical cue (e.g., a tip dish in the shape of a heart) can trigger thoughts of love, which apparently activated altruism and helping behaviors. Interesting. I wonder what effect other simple physical cues might have in a variety of environments?
Guéguen, N. (2013), Helping with all your heart: the effect of cardioid dishes on tipping behavior. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 43: 1745–1749. doi: 10.1111/jasp.12109