People tip less when the tip jar looks like a human

Henckell is my favorite cafe in Frederiksberg, Copenhagen. It is a local place with great coffee and sandwich. I feel cozy inside. It has only four small tables.



There is a tip jar next to the credit card machine on the counter table. Interestingly, it has a smiley face, two arms, and two legs. One day out of curiosity, I kept watching how many guests tipped in this human-looking tip jar. Afterwards, I also asked a server whether guests liked it. Surprisingly, I noticed that a few guests hesitated putting coins into this jar for an unknown reason. The server even told me that not few guests complained about the tip jar because its mouth is too small to insert coins.



When human flavor is added to an object, people like the object. It is supported by academic studies about anthropomorphism. For instance, when a car is anthropomorphized and its characteristics are congruent with the proposed human schema, people evaluate it positively (Aggarwal and McGill 2007). When a garbage bin is anthropomorphized (e.g., “feed me”), people follow the message and show prosocial behaviors (Ahn, Kim, Aggarwal 2013). When an innovative, uncertain product is anthropomorphized (e.g., “this little guy”), people tend to adopt this product (Jiang, Hoegg, and Dahl 2011).

However, anthropomorphism might backfire if the usefulness of the product is sacrificed. When I come back to this cafe, I want to draw a different character with a bigger mouth and see what happens.



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