Auditing standards prescribe that the auditor should consider client management's attitude toward fraud when making fraud risk assessments. However, little guidance is provided in the auditing standards or the existing fraud literature on observable indicators of fraud attitude. We test whether observable indicators of narcissism, a personality trait linked to unethical and fraudulent behavior, is viewed by auditors as an indicator of increased fraud attitude risk. We administered an experiment to 101 practicing auditors from one international public accounting firm who assessed fraud risk based on a scenario in which client manager narcissism (attitude) and fraud motivation were each manipulated at two levels (low and high). Our results show that narcissistic client behavior and fraud motivation are significantly and positively related to auditors' overall fraud risk assessments. Implications of these findings for further research and the auditing profession are discussed.
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