Intuition versus Analytical Thinking and Impairment Testing
Posted: 16 Oct 2019
Date Written: September 10, 2019
We examine the use of intuition versus analytical thinking in auditor risk assessment using a task that requires auditors to assess a group of impairment indicators. We expect that auditor intuition, rooted in the subconscious, more likely reacts to impairment indicator risk than does auditor analytical thinking. Results from two different experiments support this expectation for less-experienced audit seniors. These seniors are more likely to assess step-zero impairment indicators as signaling potential impairment when prompted to think intuitively versus analytically. In contrast, a third experiment finds that experienced seniors are more likely to assess step-zero impairment indicators as signaling potential impairment when prompted to think analytically versus intuitively. This is consistent with the more experienced, but still non-expert seniors possessing developed analytical thinking, but struggling to effectively use their intuition. Our results inform theory by suggesting under what conditions auditor intuition and analytical thinking produce differential risk sensitivity. Further, our results inform practice, given regulators’ stated focus on auditor skepticism and impairment assessments.
Keywords: Auditing, Intuition, Impairment testing, Risk Assessment, Skepticism
JEL Classification: M4, M42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation