Research shows that management accountants’ role to support business unit managers’ decision-making may cause them to succumb to managers’ pressures to misreport. Using electroencephalographic (EEG) evidence, Eskenazi, Hartmann and Rietdijk (2016) demonstrate the role of automatic emotional mimicry, which drives misreporting when managers’ personal interest is at stake, but not when BU interest is at stake. In this study, we aim to replicate this finding using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which enables us to separate affective from cognitive empathy. Thirty accounting professionals completed an emotion observation task during which empathy-related brain activity was recorded. We then explored accountants’ inclination to misreport using empathy-invoking accounting scenarios. We find that the inclination to misreport correlates with activation of cognitive empathy regions, but only for scenarios in which accountants misreport to serve business unit’s interests, rather than managers’ personal interests. We find no evidence for a role of affective empathy.

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