The process behind auditor judgement

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Auditors are required to use considerable judgment in their job, assessing information from a number of sources to create financial reports, critique accounting estimates, and assess a company’s internal controls over financial reporting. But an auditor’s decision-making process is not well understood. In their paper, Kathryn Kadous, professor of accounting, and coauthors Emily E. Griffith (U Wisconsin) and Donald Young 13PhD (Goizueta, Indiana U) provide a framework for researchers to better evaluate the judgment of auditors and, in turn, improve audit quality. Prior research in this area presumes that “decision makers typically engage deliberate, analytical processes to solve problems (i.e., pursue goals) that they have specifically chosen, that they limit their decision inputs to items they view as relevant, and that they have access to the details of their own cognitive processing.” The trio notes that “nonconscious goals” and “intuitive processes” are also influential in the decision-making process and in the factors driving these processes. Kadous, Griffith, and Young conclude that their framework indicates researchers approach their investigation by taking into account “conscious and nonconscious goals” and “decision makers with conflicting incentives, as well as differing capabilities.”