Auditors frequently use benchmarking analysis to evaluate the appropriateness of a client's estimates. Client management may strategically select benchmark data, making an auditor's evaluation task more difficult. Psychology research suggests that the composition of the benchmark set can lead to contrast effects, because evaluations of an option in a choice set can change based on the inclusion of other options in the set. In Experiment 1, we examine and find that auditors' judgments of the reasonableness of a client-preferred discount rate for a Level 3 investment are inappropriately influenced by the set of peer companies provided by the client as justification. In Experiment 2, audit managers performing the same task similarly exhibited contrast effects. However, as managers' investment experience increased, the influence of contrast effects from the benchmark set decreased. Given the widespread use of benchmark data, contrast effects from benchmark set composition have implications for accounting and auditing contexts.

You do not currently have access to this content.