Presentation Modality and Source Monitoring During Management Inquiry: Effects on Auditors’ Reliability Judgments

Kelly F Gamble


An experiment was performed to determine whether the presentation modality of evidence affected auditors’ accuracy in identifying the sources of that evidence (i.e., source monitoring) and their subsequent judgments of evidence reliability. Participants were provided with conflicting explanations for a material increase in a fictitious client firm’s gross margin. The explanations were presented in either the same (both visual) or mixed (one visual and one auditory) modalities. The sources of the explanations had either the same (both high) or mixed (one high and one low) levels of credibility. Results indicate that auditors who received evidence in mixed presentation modalities were more accurate in identifying the sources of that evidence. Also, auditors with more accurate source monitoring judged evidence obtained from a less-credible source to be of significantly lower reliability than did auditors who were not as accurate in identifying evidence sources. These findings suggest that auditors’ judgments of evidence reliability may be influenced by the sensory modality by which evidence is perceived. Also, post-hoc analysis indicates that taking notes may improve auditors’ source monitoring accuracy when evidence is perceived via an auditory modality.

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Accounting and Finance Research
ISSN 1927-5986 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5994 (Online)

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