This study examined whether auditors, when they are processing mixed evidence, take into consideration the chronological order of the evidence (giving rise to what this study refers to as a trend effect), or if their evaluations are influenced primarily by the order of presentation (giving rise to what the audit literature refers to as a recency effect). The study's primary objective was to determine whether awareness of the temporal order of evidence would prevent auditors from placing more weight on evidence that they most recently processed (i.e., whether the trend effect dominates the recency effect).
Auditors were given an experimental task of going‐concern assessment. Auditors evaluating undated mixed evidence exhibited recency effects similar in magnitude to those shown by auditors who were asked to evaluate dated mixed evidence, in which the presentation order was consistent with temporal order. However, auditors evaluating evidence in which temporal order and presentation order were varied orthogonally took into consideration the chronological order of the evidence. This, in turn, led to a significant reduction in the effect of recency. Additional analysis indicates that auditors who evaluated dated mixed evidence chose audit opinions consistent with the trend reflected by the chronology of the evidence.