Construal Instructions and Professional Skepticism in Evaluating Complex Estimates

This study investigates the use of audit evidence documentation instructions that promote the collection and processing of evidence with high-level construals (broad, abstract interpretations of the evidence). Abstraction can help a person piece together individual pieces of information or evidence and better enable a person to see the big picture of what the collective information portends. The results of an experiment suggest that auditors think and act with more professional skepticism when using the documentation instructions that promote high-level construals as compared with auditors using documentation instructions promoting low-level construals (specific, detailed interpretations of the evidence, akin to current audit practice) and with auditors not given documentation instructions. Further, the high-level construals foster better processing of the collected evidence. The study also provides preliminary evidence that task complexity could interfere with professional skepticism.

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APA-Format Citation

Rasso, J. T. (2015). Construal instructions and professional skepticism in evaluating complex estimates. Accounting, Organizations and Society46, 44-55.