Chair or Co-Chair
Prior psychology research indicates attractiveness plays a role in hiring decisions. Recent archival research finds an inverse relation between audit partner attractiveness and measures of financial reporting quality, suggesting that attractiveness biases may extend to hiring decisions in accounting, affecting audit quality. Research has yet to examine whether and when audit partner attractiveness influences auditor selection recommendations in the governmental setting. Motivated by the Implicit Personality theoretical lens of beauty bias and Dual-Process Theory, this study uses a 2 x 2 between-subjects design to experimentally examine if auditor attractiveness (attractive vs. unattractive) affects auditor selection decisions through the evaluation step of the RFP process and whether the auditees’ audit goals (“meticulous” audit vs. “check-the-box” audit) moderate the effect of audit partners’ attractiveness on the likelihood of recommendation. Results indicate that finance directors recommend attractive audit partners more than unattractive audit partners. Further, auditee goals moderate the relationship between attractiveness and recommendation decisions such that attractiveness influences the decisions of finance directors when the auditee’s goal is “check-the-box” but not when the auditee’s goal is “meticulous.” Additionally, a research question explores whether including an audit partner’s photo in a proposal provides a benefit or possible detriment over not including a photo. This is no evidence that the inclusion of photos influences the likelihood of recommendations when auditees have “meticulous” goals. However, when auditees have “check-the-box” goals, attractive audit partners are more likely to be recommended (receive a “premium”) as compared to the baseline of no photo. This study has implications for audit firms, auditees, and regulators by examining when auditees are susceptible to an attractiveness bias during the auditor selection process, which can ultimately affect audit quality.
Available for download on Monday, June 19, 2028