Audit judgment and self-regulation: the implications of regulatory focus theory and regulatory fit in audit

Du, Minmin (2015) Audit judgment and self-regulation: the implications of regulatory focus theory and regulatory fit in audit. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis introduces two concomitant psychological perspectives, Regulatory Focus Theory and Regulatory Fit Theory to research in the field of audit judgment and decision making (JDM). The purpose of this thesis is to explore the applicability of the two theories in audit JDM research and to generate preliminary empirical results concerning their plausible implications.
Regulatory Focus Theory (Higgins, 1997) provides a fundamental model of human cognition, emotion, and behaviour, as composed of two distinct self-regulation systems: promotion focus (concerned with nurturance needs) versus prevention focus (concerned with security needs). The developing theory has provided many remarkable insights into cognition and decision-making generally. It is proposed in this thesis that Regulatory Focus Theory has important implications for audit JDM, and that it may enrich the account of difference in audit judgment and cognition among auditors provided by prior research. Employing an audit task setting that involved judgment concerning investigation boundaries, this thesis reports evidence for the distinct effects of promotion focus versus prevention focus on cognition of temporal aspects of accounting information and on information processing styles in audit judgment. Participants represent a mix of accounting undergraduates, MBA students, and accounting practitioners. Compared with promotion- focused individuals, prevention-focused individuals over-discount the significance of accounting information distant in the past (five-years ago), while under-discount proximal (two-years ago) information. When information is processed procedurally rather than intuitively, differences in judgments among subjects with promotion versus prevention focus is significantly reduced.
Higgins‘ later work looks at how strategic means serve one‘s regulatory focus dispositions and finds that certain strategic means or behaviours may better sustains or fit one‘s motivational state than others (Cesario, Higgins, and Scholer, 2008). The concept of regulatory fit has been applied by researchers in the field of consumer behaviour to study the effect of regulatory fit on the persuasiveness of advocacy messages (e.g., Avent and Higgins, 2006). This thesis proposes that the persuasion effect of regulatory fit can be applied to audit JDM and in particular to the persuasion aspects of the audit review process, and provides new evidence in support of the proposal. The persuasion effect of regulatory fit is examined in a scenario constructed to be analogous to audit. Accounting undergraduates assume a role as independent party to advice the committee of a student drama club on planning of activities for the current year based on review of accounting information in relation to revenue generation of the club. Experimental results reported in this thesis show the relevance of regulatory fit / misfit in audit judgment. Across three settings of regulatory fit induction: The experiments manipulated various sources of regulatory fit – fit from framings of messages received; fit from strategic means applied within the task; and finally fit from prior performance in a separate task. The thesis has demonstrated methods by which regulatory fit can be created from various sources in audit contexts and offered findings suggesting factors affecting audit judgment not yet covered in extant research, e.g., order of audit tasks and the strategic manner of audit tasks (eager versus vigilant).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Audit judgment; Self-regulation; Regulatory Focus Theory; Regulatory Fit
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > Adam Smith Business School > Accounting and Finance
Supervisor's Name: McKernan, Professor John Francis and O'Donnell, Professor Patrick
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Miss Minmin Du
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-6916
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2015 15:18
Last Modified: 15 Dec 2015 16:51

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