The Influence of Sensitivity Disclosures on Investor Judgments
35 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2007 Last revised: 26 Feb 2008
Date Written: July 2007
This study presents the results of an experiment that examines how sensitivity disclosures influence investors' judgments of the reliability of financial statement items. A sensitivity disclosure uses "parameters" to describe the slope of change in a financial statement item value in response to change in an input that underlies the item. Since sensitivity can be depicted using any two points along the slope of change, managers can choose different parameters to communicate the same sensitivity. In our experiment, we manipulate the magnitude of the parameters (i.e., points along the slope of change) used in the sensitivity disclosure for the capitalized software development asset of a hypothetical firm. The results indicate that investors' reliability judgments decrease as the reported parameters increase. Mediation analysis provides evidence that the effect of parameters on investors' reliability judgments occurs through their impact on the size of the set of alternative financial statement item values investors perceive as a result of observing the sensitivity information. Additional evidence suggests that the effect of parameters reflects an unintentional reliance on the set of alternative values made available by the parameters, rather than a conscious response to a perceived management signal about reliability through parameter choice. This study has implications for disclosure requirements given the increasing acceptance of measurement attributes that require estimation (e.g., fair value), and improves our understanding of how disclosures influence investors' reliability judgments.
Keywords: sensitivity disclosure, reliability, judgment and decision-making, nonprofessional investor
JEL Classification: M41, M45
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
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