ABSTRACT:

This study examines the effectiveness of disclosure in the auditor's report of the auditor's judgment process as a means to mitigate unfavorable attribution to the auditor after the occurrence of an adverse event, i.e., the tendency to ascribe the cause to a factor(s) that can be readily associated with the event (“second guessing”). Modification of the audit report in this manner is consistent with recent calls to make the audit report more responsive to user expectations and with the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Improving Financial Reporting for the establishment of a professional judgment framework. We provide 72 nonprofessional investors with a case where there are both positive and negative indicators about the going-concern status of a client. The auditor issues a standard audit report, and nine months later the client files for bankruptcy. Participants are randomly assigned to two groups: judgment process information or no judgment process information. The results indicate that judgment process information significantly mitigates auditor attribution after the bankruptcy for four of five auditor performance measures. In all, the findings suggest disclosure of the auditor's judgment process is a promising tool to mitigate auditor attribution.

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