Introduction n a prominently cited commentary

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Unformatted text preview: iew, April 2002 I. INTRODUCTION n a prominently cited commentary (Securities and Exchange Commission 2000), Bazerman et al. (1997) argue that auditors suffer from an unconscious self-serving bias, and thus cannot conduct impartial audits. The bias arises because of auditors’ repeated close interactions with client management and their limited and distant interactions with investors.1 Unconscious bias is particularly problematic because economic sanctions are less likely to mitigate it. In this paper, I report the results of an experiment designed to investigate the extent to which group affiliation, a noneconomic factor, can reduce selfserving biases in an audit trust game. Although provocative, the Bazerman et al. (1997) conclusion is premature for two reasons: first, the experiments on which they base their conclusion are not oriented to auditing settings;2 and second, the authors do not consider whether auditors’ psychological bonds created by group membership may reduce self-serving biases. Auditors generally belong to engagement teams, audit firms, and professional organizations, all of which can create psychological affiliations that may mitigate biases that auditors may form due to repeated close...
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