Professional Skepticism and Auditor Judgment: Does Trait Skepticism Mitigate the Recency Bias?
42 Pages Posted: 7 Dec 2016
Date Written: December 2016
In two experiments with experienced auditors, we examine whether and how trait skepticism mitigates the tendency to place a greater emphasis on the most recently presented information, the so-called recency bias. We measure trait skepticism using the Hurtt scale (Hurtt 2010), manipulate information order, and vary presentation mode across two experiments. When information is presented sequentially (experiment 1), we find that auditors who score higher on the subconstructs of trait skepticism related to evidence examination are less likely to overweight contrasting evidence and thus are less prone to the recency bias. When information is presented simultaneously and the task is complex (experiment 2), we observe that auditors with higher trait skepticism exhibit higher cognitive effort which mitigates the recency bias. Our main contribution is the identification and detailed investigation of trait skepticism as a factor mitigating the recency bias, thereby providing evidence for its behavioral manifestation.
Keywords: Professional Skepticism, Trait Skepticism, Auditor Judgment, Recency
JEL Classification: M42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation