Prior research has shown that auditors who learn superiors' views before making their own judgment are influenced by them (e.g., Peecher 1996; Tan et al. 1997; Cohen and Trompeter 1998; Brown et al. 1999; Wilks 2002). We use the theory of motivated reasoning (Kunda 1990, 1999) to examine the malleability of individual auditors' judgments after auditors have reached their own independent conclusions. In a between-subjects experiment with practicing auditors and audit students, we find that auditors who learn the views of their superiors after reaching their own judgment subsequently report that their original, independent judgment had been the same as that of their superiors. Our findings provide evidence that knowledge of superiors' views biases auditors' reports of their prior independent judgments, potentially inhibiting discussion and resolution of contrary views. Moreover, in our study this bias is not significantly different from the influence superiors' views have on auditors who learn those views prior to reaching their own conclusions. We discuss the implications of these findings for audit practice.
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