PhD defence: Carmen Olsen

PhD Defense

22 May 2015 22:03

(updated: 7 March 2016 22:05)

PhD defence: Carmen Olsen

On Friday 5 June, 2015, Carmen Olsen will hold a trial lecture on a prescribed topic and defend her thesis for the PhD degree at NHH.

The formal definition of professional skepticism is "[a]n attitude that includes a questioning mind, being alert to conditions which may indicate possible misstatement due to error or fraud, and a critical assessment of audit evidence." (IFAC 2009, ISA No. 200.13.l.) Auditors are required to be professionally skeptical when auditing the financial statements because being professionally skeptical is an indicator of good audit judgments (making an evaluation without making a specific choice) and of good audit decision quality (making a specific choice and taking action).

Being professionally skeptical, however, is challenging in practice and in theory. Regulators' inspections often reveal that practitioners do not exercise enough professional skepticism in their audit judgments and decisions. In theory, researchers "do not have a full understanding yet of all the determinants" of professional skepticism; in addition, the construct of professional skepticism remains unobserved.

Consequently, to get a better understanding of the determinants of professional skepticism both academics and standard setters have called for research that examines the role of affect and the role of auditors' characteristics.

Through Olsen´s thesis, she responds to these calls through an investigation of the role of auditors' affective reactions toward the audit client on auditors' skeptical judgments (Study 1) and the role of personality characteristics and the individual level of trust on skeptical judgments and skeptical decisions (Study 2). Furthermore, she reviews in study 3 relevant literature to examine how neuroaccounting through fMRI can enhance our understanding of the unobserved construct of professional skepticism.

Prescribed topic for the trial lecture

"What do we know about the benefits and costs of auditors' professional skepticism and is there an optimal level of skepticism?"

Members of the evaluation committee

Chair: Professor Aasmund Eilifsen, Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law (NHH)
Professor William F. Messier, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Associate Professor Anna Gold, Department of Accounting, VU University Amsterdam

Supervising committee

Professor Iris Stuart, Norwegian School of Economics, principal supervisor
Professor Kjell Grønhaug, Norwegian School of Economics

The trial lecture and thesis defense will be open to the public. Copies of the thesis will be available from: