Ego Depletion: Applications and Implications for Auditing Research

Hurley, P.J. 2015. Ego depletion: Applications and implications for auditing research. Journal of Accounting Literature, 35, 47-76

57 Pages Posted: 19 Dec 2013 Last revised: 2 Jan 2016

See all articles by Patrick J. Hurley

Patrick J. Hurley

Northeastern University - Accounting Group

Date Written: November 21, 2015

Abstract

In this paper, I synthesize the prior psychology literature on ego depletion and apply this literature to an auditing setting. Ego depletion refers to a reduced desire or ability to use self-control in task performance due to using self-control on prior tasks. I focus on the likely causes and consequences of depletion in an auditing setting, as well as means of mitigating depletion and recovering self-control resources. While ego depletion theory is prevalent in the psychology literature, little is known about whether or how ego depletion affects professionals on meaningful task performance. As a result, this synthesis is aimed at stimulating future ego depletion research in accounting, and specifically auditing, by surveying existing literature and applying this literature to an auditing setting. Further, I develop 13 questions for future research to investigate. My synthesis reveals that ego depletion likely has a pervasive effect in an auditing setting, and can hinder auditors’ judgment and decision-making (JDM) quality. Therefore, this synthesis helps to provide a greater understanding of the impact of auditing tasks on individuals, and refines both auditor JDM and ego depletion theories.

Keywords: ego depletion; auditing; self-control; judgment and decision-making; audit quality

JEL Classification: M41

Suggested Citation

Hurley, Patrick J., Ego Depletion: Applications and Implications for Auditing Research (November 21, 2015). Hurley, P.J. 2015. Ego depletion: Applications and implications for auditing research. Journal of Accounting Literature, 35, 47-76, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2369031 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2369031

Patrick J. Hurley (Contact Author)

Northeastern University - Accounting Group ( email )

360 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
United States

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