Comment on 'The Effects of Interference and Availability from Hypotheses Generated by a Decision Aid upon Analytical Procedures Judgments'

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Response or Comment

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I greatly appreciate the opportunity to comment on the work of Anderson et al. (1997). The authors have addressed a very important set of issues in this research. Analytical procedures appear to be increasing as a percentage of total audit effort, and advances in information technology have expanded our ability to construct decision aids. In addition, the authors have a well-developed theory to support their predictions.

The primary result of the study is that auditors who focused on an error-dominated list of provided hypotheses tended to increase their probability assessments that a significant ratio fluctuation was due to error. Such a result could ultimately have implications for the design of decision aids. Specifically, audit firms seeking to promote greater audit effectiveness might construct decision aids which lead the auditor to focus primarily on error causes of unusual ratio fluctuations.

Despite the importance of the topic and the potential for practical implications from this line of research, I believe that two methodological concerns limit the contribution and make it difficult to interpret the study's results. The next sections of this commentary will address the two methodological concerns: (1) the amount of information provided to the subjects, and (2) the requirement that subjects reassess the probability of error. I will conclude with some perspectives on the future of this line of research.

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