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
Date Written: November 21, 2015
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: Suggested Citation