Ethics, Experience and Professional Skepticism: A Situational Analysis. Academic Article uri icon


  • A model of auditors' professional skepticism is developed in this study by adapting Kee and Knox's (1970) model of trust and suspicion to apply to auditors. This model defines professional skepticism as a function of (1) ethical disposition, (2) experience, and (3) situational factors. Structural equations modeling is used to evaluate the relationship of these factors to professional skepticism. The model is tested using auditors (n=156) from a single Big 6 firm. Each auditor's skepticism is measured and analyzed in nine different high(low)-risk situations. The results indicate auditors endorsing situation ethics are less skeptical and less concerned with professional ethics. CPAs exhibit less skeptical behavior than their uncertified colleagues. Situations increasing skepticism include the existence of (1) a related party transaction, (2) client financial stress, (3) prior client inaccuracies, and (4) poor clientauditor communication. Results also indicate auditors' skepticism is counteracted when the client is important (as a source of referrals) to the firm's practice development. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

author list (cited authors)

  • Shaub, M. K., & Lawrence, J. E

complete list of authors

  • Shaub, MK||Lawrence, JE

publication date

  • January 1996