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    The Influence of Roles, Advocacy, and Adaptation to the...
    research summary posted May 7, 2012 by The Auditing Section, last edited May 25, 2012, tagged 09.0 Auditor Judgment, 09.10 Prior Dispositions/Biases/Auditor state of mind 
    The Influence of Roles, Advocacy, and Adaptation to the Accounting Decision Environment
    Practical Implications:

    The results of this study are important for small to midsize firms. It is very challenging for small firms to meet the demand for accounting services if only limited staff resources are available. Even large firms could be affected when staff accountants are assigned to work a rotation in another department, when professionals permanently switch departments, or when professionals are trained in an area inconsistent with their current job duties. This paper provides evidence that accountants’ judgment accuracy could be influenced by both their attitude and tasks they performed.  Knowing how these factors influence accountants’ judgment, firms could help them better adapt to the tasks at hand.


    Pinsker, R., R. Pennington, and J.K. Schafer. 2009.  The Influence of Roles, Advocacy, and Adaptation to the Accounting Decision Environment. Behavioral Research in Accounting 21 (2): 91-111.

    Belief revision; decision environment; advocacy; adaptation; professional role
    Purpose of the Study:

    Accountants’ judgments are influenced by many factors, such as task, individual, and environmental factors. When making decision, decision makers often adapt strategies to the tasks by balancing the need to make good decisions with the need to minimize cognitive effort, which, in turn, could lead to errors or biases in judgments. Professional role is expected to affect a decision maker’s judgment by influencing sensitivity toward evidence. In addition, given different decision environment, accountants should adapt to different strategies for the task. This paper identifies two potential factors which could affect accountants’ judgments. Below are two objectives that the authors address in their study:

    • Examine how professional role, such as tax or audit, influences accountants’ advocacy attitude.
    • Examine how accountants’ advocacy attitude together with decision environment influences accountants’ judgment.
    Design/Method/ Approach:

    The research evidence is collected in the mid-2000s time period. The authors use accounting professionals and Master’s of Accountancy students to complete either a simulated tax task involving judging how strongly they felt officer compensation should be deducted on the tax return, or a simulated audit task involving judging how strongly they felt there was a need to disclose a contingent liability on the financial statement.

    • The authors find that accountants’ professional role as audit or tax, influences the development of their attitudes (skeptic or advocacy) toward their clients.
    • The authors find that individual’s attitudes (advocate or skeptic) influence recommendations to the client more strongly in a tax environment than in an audit environment.
    • The authors find that auditors are less likely to adapt and are more influenced by their attitudes than tax professionals, regardless of the decision environment.
    • The authors find that accountants having worked in both audit and tax roles exhibit more neutral attitudes than professionals possessing only tax or only audit experience.
    Auditor Judgment
    Prior Dispositions/Biases/Auditor state of mind
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