Auditors' performance evaluations: An experimental analysis of the effects of initial impressions and task-specific experience on information later recalled

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Professional auditors at two firms completed a computerized task designed to test the effects of initial impressions and experience upon the information later recalled about a subordinate. Subjects were given either a positive, negative, or neutral initial impression with respect to the subordinate's technical competence. They then reviewed randomly presented behavioral descriptions, completed an unrelated "distracter" task, and completed a free recall task related to the subordinate from the original task. Subjects inheriting a negative initial impression exhibited a greater tendency toward recall of weakness-related information compared to those given no specific initial impression. Those given a positive initial impression did not exhibit a similar confirmatory tendency. Experience in performance evaluation was associated with greater recall of unfavorable information, but only for subjects given no initial impression. © 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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Accounting Forum

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