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An examination of order effects in auditors’ inherent risk assessments

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While recency effects have been reported in a variety of audit tasks, recent studies suggest that these effects may be mitigated under certain conditions. The importance of investigating order effects in auditors’ judgments rests with its potential to impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of audits. Since current studies suggest that recency effects may not impact on all audit situations, it is necessary to identify conditions or variables in the task environment that either induce or mitigate recency.

This study examines the occurrence of order effects in auditors’ inherent risk assessments, a task not previously examined. Using a case study administered to 70 auditors, this study found that auditors’ judgments were not influenced by the order in which audit evidence was evaluated. Rather, the results suggest that judgments of inherent risk may be biased towards conservatism. This may not be surprising given the negative consequences associated with failing to adequately plan an audit. This may cause auditors to act cautiously and thus mitigate recency effects.

Keywords: Audit judgments; Inherent risk assessments; Order effects

Document Type: Original Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1467-629X.00041

Affiliations: 1: School of Accounting, Edith Cowan University, Churchlands, Western Australia 6018, Australia, 2: Department of Accounting and Finance, The University of Western Australia, Nedlands, Western Australia 6907, Australia

Publication date: July 1, 2000

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