Male and Female Auditors’ Overconfidence

14 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2010 Last revised: 21 Apr 2013

See all articles by Kris Hardies

Kris Hardies

University of Antwerp

Diane Breesch

Vrije Universiteit Brussel

Joël Branson

Vrije Universiteit Brussel VUB

Date Written: November 1, 2009


Overconfidence has been a hot topic in judgment and decision-making research. The overconfidence effect describes, among other things, the tendency of people to believe that their judgment is more accurate than it really is. Auditing judgment and decision making research has always had much interest in the extent to which auditor judgments are biased because of the use of heuristics (i.e. rules of thumb). Few studies have, however, addressed the issue of auditor overconfidence, although auditor overconfidence may cause audits to be ineffective, and could lead to legal problems, inappropriate staffing, inefficient use of technology, and misallocation of audit resources. From outside the domains of auditing and accounting, researchers have frequently reported sex differences in overconfidence (with males being more overconfident than females). It would thus be worthwhile to know if such a sex difference in overconfidence also exists within the auditor population. Since auditors are not a random sample of males and females, but a well selected subpopulation, it cannot simply be assumed that it does. In this paper, two experiments (122 participants and 597 participants) are presented that examined the degree of overconfidence of male and female auditors. Contrary to expectations, our results provide no evidence for a sex difference in overconfidence within a population of auditors and warrant against careless and unmindful generalizing findings from non-audit populations to auditors. Future studies may be needed to investigate whether the results of our study might be different if overconfidence is examined in different contexts (i.e. using other measures or tasks).

Keywords: auditing, sex differences, biases and heuristics, overconfidence

JEL Classification: M42, J16, D81, M49

Suggested Citation

Hardies, Kris and Breesch, Diane and Branson, Joël, Male and Female Auditors’ Overconfidence (November 1, 2009). Managerial Auditing Journal, Vol. 27, No. 1, 2011, Available at SSRN: or

Kris Hardies (Contact Author)

University of Antwerp ( email )

Department of Accounting and Finance
Pleinlaan 13
Antwerp, 2000

Diane Breesch

Vrije Universiteit Brussel ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
Brussels, Brussels 1050

Joël Branson

Vrije Universiteit Brussel VUB ( email )

Pleinlaan 2
Brussels, 1050


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