The Ins and Outs of Professional Skepticism. Insights into the Effects of Professional Skepticism Traits on the Inputs, Process, and Outputs of the Audit
25 September 2020
Maastricht University - Minderbroedersberg 4-6 - 6211 LK Maastricht
Prof. Dr. Kris Hardies, Prof. Dr. Ann Vanstraelen
PhD defence Sanne Janssen - Faculty of Business and Economics (University of Antwerp) / School of Business and Economics (Maastricht University)
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The objective of an external audit is to provide assurance to the users of financial statements on the quality of the reported information. A quality audit is therefore essential for the functioning of capital markets. The exercise of professional skepticism is often described as a key attribute for a quality audit. However, despite its alleged importance, the concept of professional skepticism is not well understood. This dissertation advances our understanding of professional skepticism by investigating professional skepticism traits as input factors, and as drivers of process and output factors of the audit. Results of this dissertation show that professional skepticism traits of auditors are significantly affected by personality traits and other individual differences, and differ significantly across ranks. Further, it shows that professional skepticism ultimately affects audit quality as professional skepticism traits are significant drivers of certain audit process and output factors. The holistic approach used in this dissertation allows me to provide recommendations for practitioners to enhance the exercise of professional skepticism.