Auditing standards require auditors to consider the reliability of the evidence they use in making judgments. One aspect of that reliability is the objectivity of the information source. More objective sources (e.g., third parties) provide higher quality information than less objective ones (e.g., client personnel), so auditors should be sensitive to the source of the information they receive. In this study, we examine the effect of the role that auditors perform on their sensitivity to information source objectivity. Specifically, we test whether sensitivity varies depending on whether the auditor is the preparer of the workpaper or the reviewer of the workpaper in the task of evaluating the adequacy of an allowance for doubtful accounts. It is hypothesized that processing differences between the two roles will cause reviewers to be more sensitive than preparers to the objectivity of the information source. In an experiment, auditors were assigned to either a preparer or reviewer role in an accounts receivable task. After calculating or reviewing the allowance for uncollectible accounts, the auditors were given new information (from either a client source or an independent credit agency) and asked to reconsider their original decision. Results indicate that reviewers were sensitive to the source of the information, while preparers were not. These findings suggest that reviewers may use different cognitive processes than preparers and that the review process serves an important function beyond that of simply a second opinion.

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