Differential evaluation of audit evidence from fixed versus sequential sampling

Peter R. Gillett, Marietta Peytcheva Rutgers

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1 Scopus citations


Does the value of audit evidence depend on whether it was collected using fixed or sequential sampling? Opposing normative views are held by the two main schools of statistical theory: Bayesians say no, frequentist statisticians say yes. We test empirically how using fixed versus sequential sampling plans influences the subsequent evaluation of audit evidence. In our experiments, students and practicing auditors assess the strength of evidence obtained using different sampling plans. Audit evidence obtained from a fixed sampling plan is invariably assessed as stronger, consistent with frequentist, but not Bayesian, theory. We test for, and rule out, an alternative explanation for this finding. We also provide qualitative data on the reasoning behind auditors' observed preference for fixed sampling. Although sequential sampling might in fact increase audit efficiency, our findings suggest that this benefit would likely be negated by subsequent unfavorable assessment of audit evidence from a sequential plan.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)68-85
Number of pages18
JournalBehavioral Research in Accounting
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Accounting
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


  • Audit evidence
  • Evidence evaluation
  • Sampling plan
  • Stopping rules


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