We conduct an experiment with practicing Big 4 audit seniors and demonstrate that generating counterexplanations for an event in an unrelated task prior to completing audit planning tasks activates a counterfactual mindset that enhances auditors’ professional skepticism. This approach to activating professional skepticism can be implemented without auditor training and can be deployed across many different audit tasks. Overall, the experiment indicates that activation of a counterfactual mindset has significant potential to enhance audit quality.

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