Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Business Administration

Major Professor

Uday S. Murthy


Auditor judgment, Biases, Complex Estimates, Experimental, Fair Value


In this study, I examine the influence of construals (interpretations) and mindsets on professional skepticism in auditors. Auditors have been criticized lately for not displaying enough professional skepticism, particularly in their audits of complex estimates (PCAOB 2008). Regulators speculate about and academic research shows a correlation between low professional skepticism and both audit failures and audit malpractice claims (Beasley et al. 2001; Anderson and Wolfe 2002). I hypothesize that prolonging the deliberative mindset in the audit judgment and decision-making process can increase professional skepticism in auditors.

Experienced auditors take part in a 1 x 3 between-participants experiment in which they play the role of a senior auditor charged with evaluating a client's fair value estimate. I manipulate the type of mindset (deliberative or implemental) invoked by the evidence documentation instructions and have a third condition in which participants do not have to document audit evidence. Using multiple measures of professional skepticism, I find that auditors in the deliberative mindset condition display higher professional skepticism than both auditors in the implemental mindset condition and auditors in the no documentation condition. I further analyze the types of textual responses entered by the auditors and offer direction for future research in this area.