Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 317–337 | Cite as

Hey big spender! A golden (color) atmospheric effect on tipping behavior

  • Na Young Lee
  • Stephanie M. NobleEmail author
  • Dipayan Biswas
Original Empirical Research


This research examines how gold-related color in atmospherics might influence customer tipping behavior at restaurants. A series of five studies shows that the color gold (as opposed to other colors) in a service atmosphere positively influences consumer tipping. First, a field experiment (Study 1) demonstrates that customers presented with a gold-colored (vs. black-colored) service prop (i.e., bill folder) leave larger tips. Study 2 further confirms this effect of the color gold by validating the findings of Study 1 with a different service prop (i.e., tablecloth). Process evidence demonstrates the underlying mechanism of this effect, whereby a gold-colored service prop increases tipping by influencing status perceptions about the restaurant and the self (Study 3). Additional studies further confirm this by ruling out novelty of the color in this mechanism (Study 4) and by highlighting the effect of status on tipping through status priming (Study 5). The findings of this research have implications for strategic use of color in servicescape design and atmospherics in general.


Color Gold Payment behavior and tipping Servicescape Service props Sensory cues Atmospherics Retail ambience Frontline employee Retail strategy 



The authors would like to thank Lauren Beitelspacher, Anne Roggeveen, and Stacey Robinson for their suggestions on Study 2.


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Na Young Lee
    • 1
  • Stephanie M. Noble
    • 2
    Email author
  • Dipayan Biswas
    • 3
  1. 1.University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  2. 2.University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA
  3. 3.University of South FloridaTampaUSA

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