The lingering effects of multi-tasking on auditors' judgment quality

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University of Alabama Libraries

Auditors must frequently multi-task in order to complete audit tasks efficiently, but the potential negative impact of multi-tasking on auditors' judgment quality is poorly understood. In this study, I address this issue and provide evidence that multi-tasking depletes auditors' ability to maintain cognitive focus, resulting in an impaired ability to identify seeded errors, particularly conceptual errors, during a subsequent workpaper review task. Importantly, this negative consequence is mitigated when auditors are exposed to an intervention based on a theoretical countermeasure (positive affect) designed to replenish decision makers' self-control resources. Given that multi-tasking is a pervasive feature of the current audit environment, and that depletion is expected to influence other complex audit tasks, these findings have direct implications for audit practice. Beyond identifying multi-tasking as a cause of impaired performance in auditing, this study's results provide initial evidence that such negative effects can be mitigated, resulting in improved judgment quality and, by extension, improved financial statement quality.

Electronic Thesis or Dissertation
Accounting, Psychology