ABSTRACT

The purpose of this study is to identify situations in which auditors' professional values are most likely to constrain the biasing effects of self-interest. I examine whether auditors' psychological distance from a situation and the degree of ambiguity inherent in a setting influence the likelihood that auditors' values exert a stronger influence on their judgments than self-interested concerns. I predict and find that in situations characterized by ambiguity, values only exert a stronger influence when auditors evaluate a situation from a psychologically distant perspective (when they are not directly involved). When auditors evaluate the same situation from a psychologically close perspective (when they are more directly involved), self-interest exerts a stronger influence. Therefore, auditors are more likely to process information in a self-serving manner the closer they are to a situation. Absent ambiguity, values exert a stronger influence, regardless of psychological distance. Public policy, practice, and research implications are discussed.

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