The Impact of Gender and Attractiveness on Judgment of Accountants' Misbehaviors
27 Pages Posted: 6 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 20, 2019
Corporate accounting scandals continue to crowd news headlines, creating the public perception that unethical and illegal behaviors are the professional norm in accountancy. As a result, perception of accountancy as an honest and reliable profession has been negatively affected. Focusing on perception of unethical accountant behaviors, we compare the same misdeeds committed by accountants and non-accountants. Eighteen short vignettes with unethical behavioral dilemmas were displayed to subjects in different versions accompanied by the image of the person who performed the unethical behavior. Respondents were asked to rate the severity of a set of unethical behaviors. The results indicate that participants extended greater tolerance to violation of ethical work behaviors. However, they treated minor crimes and illegal non-work behaviors with more severity. Gender and attractiveness moderated the connection between occupation and unethical judgment. In the former, participants displayed less tolerance to female accountants. In the latter, they were also less tolerant of attractive accountant misbehaviors. This work sheds needed light on the worrying negative public perception of ethical standards in accountancy. For professionalism to be restored, ethical renewal is critical, and this work represents a step in that direction.
Keywords: Ethical judgment; Gender; Evaluation biases; Physical attractiveness; Accounting; Unethical work behavior
JEL Classification: C91, J70, K42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation