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Author ORCID Identifier



Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Christopher P. Agoglia

Second Advisor

G. Bradley Bennett

Subject Categories



Current auditing standards require auditors to consider qualifications of the source (e.g., credibility and competence of management) in assessing the quality (e.g., reliability) of audit evidence, especially in subjective audit areas. However, while auditing standards stress the importance of the evaluation of management, they do not prescribe how auditors should effectively identify and incorporate relevant information about the source into evidence evaluation. Psychology research highlights that credibility is multi-dimensional and, more importantly, competence is context-specific. That is, an expert in one area may lack the necessary knowledge and background in other areas. Recent research in psychology has identified a phenomenon called the “sleeper effect for the source”, which explains how even a weak message’s persuasiveness can increase over time if it is initially associated with a credible source. Using an experiment, I find that current auditing practices regarding management competence assessments result in auditors ignoring context-specific competence and relying on weak audit evidence when provided by a credible source. Specifically, I find that auditors are subject to a sleeper effect of the source when evaluating audit evidence. This effect results in a reliance on overall source credibility assessments and a dissociation of a source’s context-specific competence from the audit evidence. I also identify an audit documentation intervention that assists auditors in identifying and incorporating context-specific competence into evidence evaluations and moderates the sleeper effect.


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