Individuals often engage in a rationalization process to self-justify questionable conduct. However, as “gatekeepers” to the market, it is vitally important for professional auditors to avoid such practices. Recognizing that some individuals may be more prone to rationalize than others, we first identify an important subset of professional auditors that we expect is more susceptible to rationalizing unethical behavior: those with low professional commitment. We then examine whether rationalization-discrediting interventions can mitigate such behavior among this auditor subset. Specifically, we developed interventions geared toward discrediting some of the most commonly-used rationalizations found in practice in order to promote a more ethical mindset and reduce unethical behavior. Using professional auditor participants, our results confirm that auditors with low (high) professional commitment are more (less) likely to accede to unethical requests from superiors. Further, among those with low professional commitment, our rationalization-discrediting interventions were effective in reducing unethical intentions.

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