Cognitive reflection abilities and accounting practice: a two-way road of influences

Linhares, Alexandre
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This dissertation paper gathers three studies on the relationship between accounting practice and certified public accountants’ (CPAs) cognitive reflection abilities (CR-ability). The first chapter summarizes the three studies, presenting contextual information about how the research ideas and identification strategies relate to my doctoral studies. The study in the second chapter maps Brazilian CPAs’ CR-abilities to demographic characteristics, providing not only the foundational insights for the studies in the next chapters but also evidence that male and younger CPAs tend to present higher CR-abilities than female and older CPAs, as well as that employer firm size may determine CR-abilities of preparers and managers. The study in the third chapter applies a quasi-experimental approach to examine whether auditing practice is more likely to prevent CR-abilities decline than financial reports elaboration practice. The paper explores the unique counterfactual opportunity provided by the accounting setting to find that aging leads human beings to adapt information processing strategies towards Type 1 of reasoning in detriment of Type 2. But auditing practice may curb this trend. These findings make several contributions to psychology and accounting fields. The paper in the fourth chapter examines the influence of stable CPAs’ individual characteristics, i.e., CR-ability and professional experience in pressured firms, on the professional judgments behind the recognition of assets and cash flows arising from audiovisual content (AV-content). The findings suggest that CR-ability drives differential AV-content assets and cash flows classification at recognition and, ultimately, incomparable financial statements, but professional experience in pressured firms is likely to refrain such differences in the case of assets. Finally, I present my concluding remarks in the fifth chapter.

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