Auditor Task Prioritization: The Effects of Time Pressure and Psychological Ownership

Bart Dierynck, Christian P. H. Peters*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Working paperOther research output


This paper reports three studies examining easy task prioritization among auditors. The first study is a survey of auditors providing evidence that auditors perceive easy task prioritization to be a threat to audit quality, yet auditors do expect other auditors to prioritize easy tasks. In our first experiment, we find that auditors indeed prioritize easy tasks. Easy task prioritization is also exacerbated under time pressure. We further find that psychological ownership is only able to
alleviate easy task prioritization in low time pressure conditions, but not in high time pressure conditions. In our second experiment, we find that prioritizing the easy task leads to lower judgment performance, and by extension, audit quality. The performance detriment of easy task prioritization manifests itself in the difficult task, and in particular in finding errors for which more cognitive processing is needed. Combined, our studies document easy task prioritization in
auditing, the audit quality implications, and the role of time pressure and psychological ownership.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages53
Publication statusSubmitted - 26 Nov 2022


  • Auditing
  • Task Ordering
  • Psychological Ownership
  • Task Complexity
  • Audit Operations


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