The Effects of Cognitive Style and Feedback Type on Performance in an Internal Control Task


To facilitate the task of evaluating the internal control environment, auditors typically use internal control questionnaires (ICQ) to identify and document audit information. One drawback of structured ICQs is that beginning auditors charged with their completion could use them mechanistically, overlooking important cues that do not match ICQ prompts. We investigate the effects of cognitive style and feedback type on auditors' ability to identify internal control cues using ICQs. Student participants, proxying for beginning staff auditors with no experience, were classified as possessing either a sensor or an intuitive cognitive style. In an experiment, participants used an ICQ to identify internal control cues for one accounting cycle. After receiving varying kinds of feedback, participants repeated the internal control cue identification task using an ICQ for a second accounting cycle. Contrary to expectations, cognitive style did not significantly affect performance in the absence of feedback. As expected, significant associations between cognitive style and post‐feedback task performance were found, with the combination of cognitive style and outcome feedback yielding positive performance improvements.

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Behavioral Research in Accounting