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Leading Article: Scrooge vindicated

FOR ALL those who have ever felt guilty about being such mean tippers, help is at hand. Now it can be said out loud: the failure to tip shows you to be of sound mind - and that's official.

The league table published by the journal Personality and Individual Differences shows that Scandinavians are meanest of all. Stereotypes of Nordic neurosis and Bergman-style gloom are, it seems, inappropriate. The generous tippers are also the most neurotic (seeking approval and never quite finding it). By the same token, those who tip least have presumably reached a Zen-like peace with the world. Iceland must be the most centred country on earth; tips are so rare that Iceland fell off the bottom of the scale. The enthusiasm about tipping decreases, according to the report's author, "with national levels of psychoticism".

Surely, skinflints need no more perfect excuse. They can insist on getting the last 15p back off a pounds 50 restaurant bill, while asking: "Who do you think I am? Hannibal Lecter?" And any would-be recipients of tips who are alarmed by a psychotic customer can always comfort themselves with the thought that (if they survive the evening without being skinned alive) at least the gratuities may be abundant.