Alan Reinstein accepted for publication in Accounting Horizons

Mike Ilitch School of Business George R. Husband Endowed Professor of Accounting Alan Reinstein has had an article accepted for publication in Accounting Horizons, which bridges academic and professional audiences with articles that focus on accounting and insights pertinent to the accounting profession.

The article, “The Effect of Exposing CPAs to Rationalizations: Conscious and Unconscious Outcomes,” was co-authored by Phil Reckers (Arizona State University).


This article reports on an experimental examination of rationalizations among CPAs. Rationalizations represent the cognitive justifications that individuals use to morally disengage their internal norms. While related research in accounting is scant, there is extensive, relevant, non-accounting research. That research distinguishes between “before-the-decision” and “after-the-decision” rationalizing, labeling the former “neutralizations” and the latter “rationalizations”. Unfortunately, confusion exists because the professional accounting literature related to the Fraud Triangle does not reflect the neutralization versus rationalization distinction. We find that neutralizations exposure increases CPAs’ unethical intentions despite cautions against doing so. This result is robust to two different morally intense and practically relevant ethical cases. We also find that the influence of neutralizations exposure is unconscious and robust among Millennials and Gen Xers, but not among Baby Boomers.

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