SYNOPSIS

Identifying ways to improve and maintain professional skepticism, particularly for the purpose of reducing the risk of material misstatement due to fraud, continues to be a top priority for the auditing profession. This study examines two strategies for improving skeptical behavior in a fraud-related task: (1) practicing inward-directed skepticism through repeated risk assessments and (2) performing timely fraud inquiries of operational-level employees. Results indicate auditors made more skeptical judgments when revisiting and reassessing fraud risk assessments. Further, when auditors performed operational-level fraud inquiries prior to substantive testing, participants exhibited significantly greater increases in skeptical judgment than those who performed inquiries subsequently or not at all. We also observed a greater tendency toward skeptical action, but only on the part of participants who were highly skeptical by nature. These findings support the effectiveness of two strategies for improving skepticism throughout an audit engagement that can improve fraud detection.

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