Analytical procedures: are more good ideas always better for audit quality?

Anna M. Rose, Jacob M. Rose, Ikseon Suh, Jay C. Thibodeau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Analytical procedures are critical to the financial statement auditing process and involve the auditor generating and considering multiple explanations for account fluctuations. We examine whether generating more or fewer explanations during analytical procedures improves audit quality. Research from fields outside of accounting suggests that generating many explanations can exacerbate judgment biases. We conduct an experiment with 92 senior auditors from two Big 4 firms to investigate whether the generation of more plausible explanations about potential misstatements hinders professional skepticism by increasing auditors’ tendencies to anchor on clientprovided explanations. We find that the generation of more plausible explanations increases the perceived difficulty of the task, which leads to anchoring on client explanations. Increased anchoring results in reduced assessments of fraud risk, an important component of the risk assessment process. These findings suggest that generating more explanations during analytics procedures can be counterproductive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-49
Number of pages13
JournalBehavioral Research in Accounting
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Analytical procedures
  • Anchoring
  • Client explanations
  • Risk assessment

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