Professional skepticism profiles, effects on audit processes and outcomes, and the moderating role of audit firm culture


This study focuses on a firm’s potential improvement of professional skepticism in the interplay between an auditor’s innate professional skepticism (personality trait), audit firm culture and audit quality by addressing three questions: How skeptical are auditors by nature in different ranks and experience levels? How does this professional skepticism affect the audit process auditors apply and the ultimate audit quality achieved? And how does firm and team culture affect professional skepticism in the audit?


This study will provide insights into what more skeptical auditors by nature do differently during the audit process and whether or not this leads to higher levels of audit quality (nature, timing, and extent of audit procedures) – and, through that, it will enable firms to strengthen firm culture in promoting professional skepticism (and more specifically how to provide the fruitful ground for less skeptical auditors by nature to perform a skeptical audit nevertheless). These insights are also highly relevant in relation to regulators (IFIAR, AFM, PCAOB) and standard setters (IAASB).

Project Number

Research Team
Dr. K. (Kris) Hardies
Prof. A. (Ann) Vanstraelen
Prof. K.M. (Karla) Johnstone
S. (Sanne) Janssen

Involved University
University of Antwerp

01/17 – 12/19