The Role of Social Presence in Auditor-Client Interactions

38 Pages Posted: 23 Feb 2020 Last revised: 2 Nov 2020

Date Written: October 2020


Auditors frequently interact with clients to perform inquiries and must maintain an appropriate level of professional skepticism during these interactions. Inquiries can be performed using various communication mediums. While prior research has shown partners prefer traditional face-to-face (FTF) interactions, many younger auditors prefer computer-mediated communication (CMC) (Bennett and Hatfield 2018). The present study utilizes Social Presence Theory to predict that skeptical behavior depends on the communication medium of the auditor-client interaction, such that auditors who perceive high social presence are less skeptical than auditors who perceive low social presence. The present study fully explores the relationship between communication medium, social presence, and skepticism by manipulating communication medium and measuring perceived social presence. Results support the prediction that auditors are less skeptical when they perceive high social presence. However, auditors do not always perceive social presence as previously assumed (i.e., high social presence for FTF and low social presence for CMC).

Keywords: Professional skepticism, Auditor-client relationships, Social presence, Communication medium

Suggested Citation

Hawkins, Erin M, The Role of Social Presence in Auditor-Client Interactions (October 2020). Available at SSRN: or

Erin M Hawkins (Contact Author)

Clemson University ( email )

Clemson, SC 29634
United States

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